Mobile teledermatology for skin tumour screening: diagnostic accuracy of clinical and dermoscopic image tele-evaluation using cellular phones

Authors


  • Funding sources
    None.

  • Conflicts of interest
    H.P.S. and R.H.-W. are cofounders and shareholders of e-derm-consult GmbH, a spin-off company of the Medical University of Graz, with special emphasis on holistic solutions in teledermatology.

  • S.K. and J.F. contributed equally to this work.

Rainer Hofmann-Wellenhof.
E-mail: rainer.hofmann@medunigraz.at

Summary

Background  The ability to diagnose malignant skin tumours accurately and to distinguish them from benign lesions is vital in ensuring appropriate patient management. Little is known about the effects of mobile teledermatology services on diagnostic accuracy and their appropriateness for skin tumour surveillance.

Objectives  To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of clinical and dermoscopic image tele-evaluation for mobile skin tumour screening.

Methods  Over a 3-month period up to three clinical and dermoscopic images were obtained of 113 skin tumours from 88 patients using a mobile phone camera. Dermoscopic images were taken with a dermatoscope applied to the camera lens. Clinical and dermoscopic images of each lesion together with clinical information were separately teletransmitted for decision-making. Results were compared with those obtained by face-to-face examination and histopathology as the gold standard.

Results  A total of 322 clinical and 278 dermoscopic images were acquired; two (1%) clinical and 18 (6%) dermoscopic pictures were inadequate for decision-making. After excluding inadequate images, the majority of which were dermoscopic pictures, only 104 of the 113 skin tumours from 80 of 88 patients could be tele-evaluated. Among these 104 lesions, 25 (24%) benign nonmelanocytic, 15 (14%) benign melanocytic, 58 (56%) malignant nonmelanocytic and six (6%) malignant melanocytic lesions were identified. Clinical and dermoscopic tele-evaluations demonstrated strong concordance with the gold standard (κ = 0·84 for each) and similar high sensitivity and specificity for all diagnostic categories. With regard to the detailed diagnoses, clinical image tele-evaluation was superior to teledermoscopy resulting in 16 vs. 22 discordant cases.

Conclusions  Clinical image tele-evaluation might be the method of choice for mobile tumour screening.

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