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Pediatr Dermatol. 2011 Mar-Apr;28(2):212-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2010.01199.x. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Satellite lesions in congenital melanocytic nevi--time for a change of name.

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Paediatric Dermatology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust/Institute of Child Health, London, UK.


The term "satellite lesions" is used in many conditions in dermatology, generally to describe smaller lesions near the edges of a principal lesion. An online medical dictionary gives the definition "a smaller lesion accompanying a main one and situated nearby," and this can apply both macroscopically and microscopically. The implication is that the smaller lesions have spread from the parent lesion. Given this definition and usual understanding of the term its use is not apt in the case of congenital melanocytic nevi (CMN). In the vast majority of cases where the patient is said to have satellite lesions these are not restricted to the area around or near the edge of the principal lesion, and are not necessarily significantly smaller. It seems likely that the early use of the term in this condition is an adaptation of the established and correct use in the context of melanoma. Not only is the term not apt clinically but has no known etiological basis. This leaves us with the question of what to call these lesions in cases of CMN. This proposal is to categorize cases into single or multiple CMN, where multiple is 2 or more nevi of any size at birth. An accurate count or good estimate of the number of lesions at birth should also be recorded, and the largest lesion classified as usual with respect to projected adult size.

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