Diagnostic tissue elements in melanocytic skin tumors in automated image analysis

Am J Dermatopathol. 2003 Apr;25(2):100-6. doi: 10.1097/00000372-200304000-00002.


In tissue counter analysis, digital images are divided into subregions (elements), and the digital information in each element is used for statistical analysis. In this study, we assessed the morphologic details of tissue elements that have turned out to be of diagnostic significance in the discrimination of benign common nevi and malignant melanoma. After creation of a data set based on a total of 12,000 cellular elements obtained from 100 benign common nevi and 100 malignant melanomas, classification and regression tree (CART) analysis was performed to differentiate between cellular elements of nevi and melanoma. In a second step, the slides were re-evaluated by the decision tree; cellular elements suggestive either for benign common nevi or for malignant melanoma were highlighted on zoomed images of the whole sections, and the individual elements were displayed in galleries. Eight groups of elements (so-called terminal nodes) seemed to indicate benign common nevi, whereas seven terminal nodes were suggestive for malignant melanoma. The elements of nodes suggestive for benign nevi largely contained nevus cells with amphiphilic cytoplasm intermingled with fibrillary material, whereas the elements of the nodes suggestive for malignant lesions often showed hyperchromatism, perinuclear halos, heavy pigmentation, or a lymphohistiocytic infiltrate. Tissue counter analysis automatically detects tissue elements that are in accordance with morphologic criteria used in conventional histopathology for diagnostic discrimination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Nevus / diagnosis
  • Nevus / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*