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J Biomed Opt. 2012 Jun;17(6):066004. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.17.6.066004.

Prehistological evaluation of benign and malignant pigmented skin lesions with optical computed tomography.

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University of Crete, University Hospital of Heraklion, Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma Clinic, Department of Dermatology, 71110, Voutes, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.


Discrimination of benign and malignant melanocytic lesions is a major issue in clinical dermatology. Assessment of the thickness of melanoma is critical for prognosis and treatment selection. We aimed to evaluate a novel optical computed tomography (optical-CT) system as a tool for three-dimensional (3-D) imaging of melanocytic lesions and its ability to discriminate benign from malignant melanocytic lesions while simultaneously determining the thickness of invasive melanoma. Seventeen melanocytic lesions, one hemangioma, and normal skin were assessed immediately after their excision by optical-CT and subsequently underwent histopathological examination. Tomographic reconstructions were performed with a back-propagation algorithm calculating a 3-D map of the total attenuation coefficient (AC). There was a statistically significant difference between melanomas, dysplastic nevi, and non-dysplastic nevi, as indicated by Kruskal-Wallis test. Median AC values were higher for melanomas compared with dysplastic and non-dysplastic nevi. No statistically significant difference was observed when thickness values obtained by optical-CT were compared with histological thickness using a Wilcoxon sighed rank test. Our results suggest that optical-CT can be important for the immediate prehistological evaluation of biopsies, assisting the physician for a rapid assessment of malignancy and of the thickness of a melanocytic lesion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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