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Title: Dermatoscopy  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Lentigo maligna, Lentigo maligna melanoma, Microscopy, Mohs surgery, Melanocytic nevus
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Immersion oil dermatoscope.
Polarized light dermatoscope.

Dermatoscopy (also known as dermoscopy or epiluminescence microscopy) is the examination of skin lesions with a dermatoscope. This traditionally consists of a magnifier (typically x10), a non-polarised light source, a transparent plate and a liquid medium between the instrument and the skin, and allows inspection of skin lesions unobstructed by skin surface reflections. Modern dermatoscopes dispense with the use of liquid medium and instead use polarised light to cancel out skin surface reflections. When the images or video clips are digitally captured or processed, the instrument can be referred to as a "digital epiluminescence dermatoscope".

This instrument is useful to dermatologists in distinguishing benign from malignant (cancerous) lesions, especially in the diagnosis of melanoma.


  • Advantages of dermatoscopy 1
  • Application of dermatoscopy 2
  • History 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Advantages of dermatoscopy

With doctors who are experts in the specific field of dermoscopy, the diagnostic accuracy for melanoma is significantly better than for those dermatologists who do not have any specialized training in dermatoscopy.[1] Thus, with specialists trained in dermoscopy, there is considerable improvement in the sensitivity (detection of melanomas) as well as specificity (percentage of non-melanomas correctly diagnosed as benign), compared with naked eye examination. The accuracy by dermatoscopy was increased up to 20% in the case of sensitivity and up to 10% in the case of specificity, compared with naked eye examination.[2][3] By using dermatoscopy the specificity is thereby increased, reducing the frequency of unnecessary surgical excisions of benign lesions.[4][5]

In the studies referred to, a comparison is made between dermatoscopy and an artificial situation of only naked eye examination. In reality, most of the 80% of US dermatologists who do not employ dermatoscopy work in bright rooms and use various magnifiers.

Application of dermatoscopy

  1. The typical application of dermatoscopy is early detection of melanoma (see above)
  2. Digital dermatoscopy (videodermatoscopy) is used for monitoring skin lesions suspicious of melanoma. Digital dermatoscopy images are stored and compared to images obtained during the patient’s next visit. Suspicious changes in such a lesion are an indication for excision. Skin lesions, which appear unchanged over time are considered benign.[6][7] Common systems for digital dermoscopy are Fotofinder, Molemax, DermoGenius or Easyscan.
  3. Aid in the diagnosis of skin tumors - such as basal cell carcinomas,[8] squamous cell carcinomas,[9] cylindromas,[10] dermatofibromas, angiomas, seborrheic keratosis and many other common skin tumors have classical dermatoscopic findings.[11]
  4. Aid in the diagnosis of scabies and pubic louse. By staining the skin with India ink, a dermatoscope can help identify the location of the mite in the burrow, facilitating scraping of the scabetic burrow. By magnifying pubic louse, it allows for rapid diagnosis of the difficult to see small insects.[12][13]
  5. Aid in the diagnosis of warts. By allowing a physician to visualize the structure of a wart, to distinguish it from corn, callouses, trauma, or foreign bodies. By examining warts at late stages of treatment, to assure that therapy is not stopped prematurely due to difficult to visualize wart structures.
  6. Aid in the diagnosis of fungal infections. To differentiate "black dot" tinea, or tinea capitis (fungal scalp infection) from alopecia areata.[14]
  7. Aid in the diagnosis of hair and scalp diseases, such as alopecia areata,[15] female androgenic alopecia,[16] monilethrix,[17] Netherton syndrome,[18] and woolly hair syndrome.[19] Dermoscopy of hair and scalp is called trichoscopy.[20][21]
  8. Determination of surgical margin of hard to define skin cancers. Examples would be Bowen’s disease, superficial basal cell carcinomas, and lentigo malignas. These tumors have very indistinct margins. By allowing the surgeon to correctly identify the true extent of the tumor, repeat surgery often is decreased.


Skin surface microscopy started in 1663 by Kolhaus and was improved with the addition of immersion oil in 1878 by Ernst Abbe. The German dermatologist, Johann Saphier, added a built-in light source to the instrument. Goldman was the first dermatologist to coin the term "dermascopy" and to use the dermatoscope to evaluate pigmented cutaneous lesions.

In 2001, a California medical device manufacturer, 3Gen, introduced the first polarized dermatoscope, the DermLite. Polarised illumination, coupled with a cross-polarised viewer, reduces (polarised) skin surface reflection, thus allowing visualisation of skin structures (the light from which is depolarised) without using an immersion fluid. Examination of several lesions is thus more convenient because physicians no longer have to stop and apply immersion oil, alcohol, or water to the skin before examining each lesion. With the marketing of polarised dermatoscopes, dermatoscopy increased in popularity among physicians worldwide. Although images produced by polarised light dermatoscopes are slightly different from those produced by a traditional skin contact glass dermatoscope, they have certain advantages, such as vascular patterns not being potentially missed through compression of the skin by a glass contact plate.


  1. ^ Lorentzen, H; Weismann, K; Petersen, CS; Larsen, FG; Secher, L; Skødt, V (1999). "Clinical and dermatoscopic diagnosis of malignant melanoma. Assessed by expert and non-expert groups". Acta dermato-venereologica 79 (4): 301–4.  
  2. ^ Vestergaard, ME; Macaskill, P; Holt, PE; Menzies, SW (2008). "Dermoscopy compared with naked eye examination for the diagnosis of primary melanoma: a meta-analysis of studies performed in a clinical setting".  
  3. ^ Ascierto, P.A.; Palmieri, G.; Celentano, E.; Parasole, R.; Caraco, C.; Daponte, A.; Chiofalo, M.G.; Melucci, M.T.; Mozzillo, N.; Satriano, R.A.; Castello, G. (2000). "Sensitivity and specificity of epiluminescence microscopy: evaluation on a sample of 2731 excised cutaneous pigmented lesions". British Journal of Dermatology 142 (5): 893.
  4. ^ Bono, A; Bartoli, C; Cascinelli, N; Lualdi, M; Maurichi, A; Moglia, D; Tragni, G; Tomatis, S; Marchesini, R (2002). "Melanoma detection. A prospective study comparing diagnosis with the naked eye, dermatoscopy and telespectrophotometry". Dermatology (Basel, Switzerland) 205 (4): 362–6.  
  5. ^ "Crutchfield Dermatology". Crutchfield Dermatology. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  6. ^ Argenziano, G; Mordente, I; Ferrara, G; Sgambato, A; Annese, P; Zalaudek, I (2008). "Dermoscopic monitoring of melanocytic skin lesions: clinical outcome and patient compliance vary according to follow-up protocols". The British journal of dermatology 159 (2): 331–6.  
  7. ^ Roma, Paolo; Savarese, Imma; Martino, Antonia; Martino, Domenico; Annese, Pietro; Capoluongo, Patrizio; Mordente, Ines; Nicolino, Rachele; Zalaudek, Iris; Argenziano, Giuseppe (2007). "Slow-growing melanoma: Report of five cases". Journal of Dermatological Case Reports 1.  
  8. ^ Scalvenzi, M; Lembo, S; Francia, MG; Balato, A (2008). "Dermoscopic patterns of superficial basal cell carcinoma". International Journal of Dermatology 47 (10): 1015–8.  
  9. ^ Felder, S; Rabinovitz, H; Oliviero, M; Kopf, A (2006). "Dermoscopic differentiation of a superficial basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma in situ". Dermatologic surgery 32 (3): 423–5.  
  10. ^ Sicinska, Justyna; Rakowska, Adriana; Czuwara-Ladykowska, Joanna; Mroz, Andrzej; Lipinski, Marcin; Nasierowska-Guttmejer, Anna; Sikorska, Jolanta; Sklinda, Katarzyna; Slowinska, Monika; Kowalska-Oledzka, Elzbieta; Walecka, Irena; Walecki, Jerzy; Rudnicka, Lidia (2007). "Cylindroma transforming into basal cell carcinoma in a patient with Brooke-Spiegler syndrome". Journal of Dermatological Case Reports 1.  
  11. ^ Campos-Do-Carmo, G; Ramos-E-Silva, M (2008). "Dermoscopy: basic concepts". International Journal of Dermatology 47 (7): 712–9.  
  12. ^ Wu, Ming-Yun; Hu, Shu-Lin; Hsu, Che-Hao (June 2008). "Use of Non-contact Dermatoscopy in the Diagnosis of Scabies" (PDF). Dermatol Sinica: 112–4. 
  13. ^ Chuh, A; Lee, A; Wong, W; Ooi, C; Zawar, V (2007). "Diagnosis of Pediculosis pubis: a novel application of digital epiluminescence dermatoscopy". Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 21 (6): 837–8.  
  14. ^ Slowinska, M; Rudnicka, L; Schwartz, RA; Kowalska-Oledzka, E; Rakowska, A; Sicinska, J; Lukomska, M; Olszewska, M; Szymanska, E (2008). "Comma hairs: a dermatoscopic marker for tinea capitis: a rapid diagnostic method". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 59 (5 Suppl): S77–9.  
  15. ^ Inui, S; Nakajima, T; Itami, S (2008). "Significance of dermoscopy in acute diffuse and total alopecia of the female scalp: review of twenty cases". Dermatology (Basel, Switzerland) 217 (4): 333–6.  
  16. ^ Rakowska, A.; et al. (2008). "Trichoscopy criteria for diagnosing female androgenic alopecia". Nature Precedings.  
  17. ^ Rakowska, A; Slowinska, M; Czuwara, J; Olszewska, M; Rudnicka, L (2007). "Dermoscopy as a tool for rapid diagnosis of monilethrix". Journal of drugs in dermatology 6 (2): 222–4.  
  18. ^ Rakowska, A; Kowalska-Oledzka, E; Slowinska, M; Rosinska, D; Rudnicka, L (2009). "Hair shaft videodermoscopy in netherton syndrome". Pediatric dermatology 26 (3): 320–2.  
  19. ^ Rakowska, Adriana; Slowinska, Monika; Kowalska-Oledzka, Elzbieta; Rudnicka, Lidia (2008). "Trichoscopy in genetic hair shaft abnormalities". Journal of Dermatological Case Reports 2 (2): 14–20.  
  20. ^ Rudnicka L, Olszewska M, Rakowska A, Kowalska-Oledzka E, Slowinska M.; Olszewska; Rakowska; Kowalska-Oledzka; Slowinska (2008). "Trichoscopy: a new method for diagnosing hair loss". J Drugs Dermatol 7 (7): 651–654.  
  21. ^ Rakowska A, Slowinska M, Kowalska-Oledzka E, Rudnicka L. (2008). "Trichoscopy (hair and scalp videodermoscopy) in the healthy female. Method standardization and norms for measurable parameters". J Dermatol Case Rep 3 (1): 14–19.  

External links

  • Dermoscopy images
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