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J Invest Dermatol. 2007 Jan;127(1):189-95. Epub 2006 Oct 26.

Quantitative discrimination of pigmented lesions using three-dimensional high-resolution ultrasound reflex transmission imaging.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, Carshalton, UK.


High-resolution ultrasound-reflex transmission imaging is a non-invasive method that can be performed in vivo. We have adapted and refined this technique for skin imaging. Scans can be analyzed to produce objective parameters. Previous work has highlighted sonographic differences between benign and malignant lesions. The aim of this study was to produce and test numerical parameters from ultrasound skin images that would quantify the acoustic differences between common pigmented lesions, which may aid their discrimination from melanoma. We report our findings for randomly selected patients referred from primary care with suspected melanoma. Those subsequently classified as malignant melanoma (MM), seborrheic keratosis (SK), and benign nevi by a consultant dermatologist (n=87) were imaged by high-resolution ultrasound-reflex transmission imaging. Using surrounding normal skin as a control, numerical sonographic parameters were derived for each lesion giving a relative measure of surface sound reflectance, intra-lesional sound reflection, total sound attenuation, and the relative uniformity of each parameter across the tumor. Significant quantitative differences existed between benign and malignant pigmented lesions studied. Sufficient discrimination was produced between MM (n=25), SKs (n=24) and other benign-pigmented lesions (n=38) to potentially reduce the referral of benign tumors by 65% without missing melanoma.

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