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Br J Dermatol. 2004 Nov;151(5):1029-38.

Digital image analysis for diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma. Development of a highly effective computer algorithm based on analysis of 837 melanocytic lesions.

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Department of Dermatology, Eberhard-Karls-University, Liebermeisterstrasse 25, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany.



Digital image analysis has been introduced into the diagnosis of skin lesions based on dermoscopic pictures.


To develop a computer algorithm for the diagnosis of melanocytic lesions and to compare its diagnostic accuracy with the results of established dermoscopic classification rules.


In the Department of Dermatology, University of Tuebingen, Germany, 837 melanocytic skin lesions were prospectively imaged by a dermoscopy video system in consecutive patients. Of these lesions, 269 were excised and examined by histopathology: 84 were classified as cutaneous melanomas and 185 as benign melanocytic naevi. The remaining 568 lesions were diagnosed by dermoscopy as benign. Digital image analysis was performed in all 837 benign and malignant melanocytic lesions using 64 different analytical parameters.


For lesions imaged completely (diameter < or = 12 mm), three analytical parameters were found to distinguish clearly between benign and malignant lesions, while in incompletely imaged lesions six parameters enabled differentiation. Based on the respective parameters and logistic regression analysis, a diagnostic computer algorithm for melanocytic lesions was developed. Its diagnostic accuracy was 82% for completely imaged and 84% for partially imaged lesions. All 837 melanocytic lesions were classified by established dermoscopic algorithms and the diagnostic accuracy was found to be in the same range (ABCD rule 78%, Menzies' score 83%, seven-point checklist 88%, and seven features for melanoma 81%).


A diagnostic algorithm for digital image analysis of melanocytic lesions can achieve the same range of diagnostic accuracy as the application of dermoscopic classification rules by experts. The present diagnostic algorithm, however, still requires a medical expert who is qualified to recognize cutaneous lesions as being of melanocytic origin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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