Teledermatoscopy as a triage system for pigmented lesions: a pilot study

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2006 Jan;31(1):13-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2005.02000.x.


Background: Skin-cancer screening should rely on simple, low-cost and high-sensitivity diagnostic procedures.

Aims: To compare diagnosis and management options after the evaluation of clinical and dermatoscopic teleconsultations with a store-and-forward teledermatology screening system for pigmented lesions.

Methods: Kappa values between telediagnoses and the gold standard (histological examination) were assessed. Referral rates, diagnostic confidence level (DCL), sensitivity and specificity were evaluated in both approaches. Picture quality and time and cost investments were also measured. In total, 61 teleconsultations were evaluated.

Results: Sensitivity of the clinical and dermatoscopic teleconsultations was 1 for both, whereas specificities were 0.65 and 0.78, respectively (P < 0.05). DCL was higher for the dermatoscopic teleconsultations (4.75 vs. 4.14, P < 0.05). Agreement between the clinical and dermatoscopic teleconsultation was kappa = 0.89 (95% CI 0.81-0.97). Agreement with the gold standard was 0.91 (95% CI 0.82-1.00) for the clinical teleconsultation and 0.94 (95% CI 0.88-1.00) for teledermatoscopy (P > 0.05). Teledermatoscopy increased the economic investment of a teledermatology facility by 2.4 times. The GP spent 1.5 times longer on dermatoscopic teleconsultations.

Conclusions: Teledermatoscopy has improved the DCL, specificity and referral rates of a teledermatology-based screening system for pigmented lesions. A more detailed economic analysis remains to be performed before recommending teledermatoscopy as a routine screening procedure in pigmented-lesion clinics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermoscopy / economics
  • Dermoscopy / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Remote Consultation / economics
  • Remote Consultation / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Triage / methods*