Assessment of a decision making protocol to improve the efficacy of VELscope™ in general dental practice: a prospective evaluation

Oral Oncol. 2014 Oct;50(10):1012-9. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2014.07.002. Epub 2014 Aug 2.


Background: VELscope™ is a device designed to help detect potentially malignant disorders of the oral mucosa at an early stage using direct tissue autofluorescence. Previous research indicates a high rate of false positives using this device. This study assesses a decision making protocol for the detection of oral mucosal lesions using conventional oral examination and VELscope™ in a general dental practice setting.

Materials and methods: 305 patients presenting for general dental treatment were screened by a general dental practitioner (GDP) for oral mucosal lesions using incandescent light (conventional oral examination - COE), followed by VELscope™ and then by correlating the findings from these two examinations. A decision making protocol was followed. Patients were either reviewed or referred to an Oral Medicine specialist (OMS) for consultation, and biopsy was undertaken as required for definitive diagnosis.

Results: 146 patients presented with at least one oral mucosal lesion, and a total of 222 lesions were detected. COE detected 161 oral mucosal lesions and an additional 61 lesions were detected with VELscope™. COE alone showed a sensitivity of 44.0% and specificity of 99.0% while VELscope™ alone showed a sensitivity of 64.0% and specificity of 54.3%. Using the decision making protocol, the sensitivity and specificity were 73.9% and 97.9% respectively.

Conclusion: Using the decision making protocol proposed in this study allows for the detection of additional oral mucosal lesions requiring specialist referral by incorporating VELscope™ into routine general dental practice, without compromising patient care.

Keywords: Early detection of cancer; Fluorescence imaging; Oral cancer; Precancerous conditions; Sensitivity and specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Dental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prospective Studies