Photoacoustic devices help clinicians to determine which lesions to biopsy

May 1, 2012

Newly available photoacoustic devices can help dermatologists identify which pigmented lesions to biopsy, according to Darrell S. Rigel, M.D., M.S. Such devices only aid the trained specialist in the assessment of such lesions, however, and do not substitute for the professional, he says.

Key Points

New York - Newly available photoacoustic devices can help dermatologists identify which pigmented lesions to biopsy, according to Darrell S. Rigel, M.D., M.S. Such devices only aid the trained specialist in the assessment of such lesions, however, and do not substitute for the professional, he says.

"Nothing replaces a good set of eyes," says Dr. Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology, New York University Medical Center. "Typically, patients come in with multiple lesions, and you have to determine which to biopsy. That's where the devices come in. They give you another piece of information to help you with the biopsy decision."

The various digital programs that have developed in the 21st century use different mechanisms to identify pigmented lesions that are suspicious for melanoma. The most recent to be approved, MelaFind (MELA Sciences), obtains data about atypical pigmented lesions about atypical pigmented lesions from up to 2.5 mm below the cutaneous surface. It uses 10 wavelengths varying from 450 nm to 950 nm and can visualize lesions as small as 20 µ in diameter. The system then incorporates the data into an algorithm that makes a biopsy recommendation and displays the suspicious lesion in the various wavelengths.