[Reflectance confocal microscopy in the diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma]

An Bras Dermatol. 2009 Nov-Dec;84(6):636-42. doi: 10.1590/s0365-05962009000600009.
[Article in Portuguese]


Skin melanoma is an international public health issue, with a considerable increase in frequency over the past few years. Early diagnosis and excision are essential for good patient prognosis. Over the past two decades dermoscopy has gained significance due to a major improvement in the accuracy of skin melanoma diagnosis in its early stage. However, there are some benign lesions of questionable dermoscopy, which may lead to the performance of unnecessary surgery. Recently, reflectance confocal microscopy has been introduced as a promising supplementary diagnostic method. It is a noninvasive, in vivo, simple, painless and quick exam. It is the only technique capable of identifying cellular structures and to examine the epidermis and papillary dermis with a resolution similar to that of histopathology, with a sensitivity of 97.3% and specificity of 72.3 % in the diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma. This is an important diagnostic tool, because it does not substitute post-surgical histopathological examination and allows for the rational assessment of lesions of questionable dermoscopy, thus avoiding unnecessary surgical procedures.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Microscopy, Confocal*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*