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March 1995

Preoperative Characterization of Pigmented Skin Lesions by Epiluminescence Microscopy and High-Frequency Ultrasound

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Dermatology, University of Würzburg (Drs Dummer, Bastian, and Brōcker) and the Technical University of Munich (Drs Blaheta and Remy and Ms Schenk), Germany.

Arch Dermatol. 1995;131(3):279-285. doi:10.1001/archderm.1995.01690150043010

Background and Design:  Previous studies have referred to the value of epiluminescence microscopy in the differential diagnosis of pigmented skin lesions and to the possibility of preoperative tumor thickness measurement in malignant melanoma by high-frequency ultrasound. Both noninvasive methods have been combined in this study. The question of improved diagnostic accuracy was discussed. Previously proposed epiluminescence microscopic characteristics of 508 melanocytic lesions and sonographic characteristics of 792 skin tumors were investigated for their sensitivity and specificity. The tumor thickness of 108 malignant melanomas was measured sonographically.

Results:  Black dots, irregular pigment network, and grayish-blue areas have been shown to be the most sensitive characteristics, whereas pseudopods, grayish-blue areas, and a whitish veil have been shown to be the most specific epiluminescence microscopic features for malignant melanoma. Sonography alone cannot reliably distinguish between different skin tumors. Preoperatively, the tumor thickness of 85% of the melanomas was assessed correctly concerning the pT stage.

Conclusions:  A 20-MHz ultrasound, in addition to epiluminescence microscopy, may improve the diagnostic accuracy by delivering information about depth and topographic location of skin tumors, but cannot give highly specific information about tissue dignity. It is a reliable tool for tumor thickness measurement for surgical planning.(Arch Dermatol. 1995;131:279-285)

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