Dermatoscopy, also known as Demoscopy, is the examination and evaluation of skin lesions using a special diagnostic tool called a Dermatoscope. A Dermatoscope allows dermatologists and other skin screening professionals to view the surface of the skin under magnification and are comprised of a magnifier, a cross-polarised or non-polarised light source and transparent plate. Some older models require a liquid medium such as oil or gel to be used in between the instrument and the skin.
Dermatoscopes have the ability to magnify, illuminate and measure skin lesions to help dermatologists distinguish between pigmented skin lesions like basal cell carcinomas and malignant melanoma.
Types of Dermatoscopy
There are two types of Dermatoscopes available, oil immersion (non-polarised) and cross-polarised. Oil immersion dermatoscopes have been used longer in the history of dermatology, however the inconvenience of applying oil or gel makes this type of dermatoscope more time consuming, especially when multiple lesions need to be examined. Cross-polarised Dermatoscopes are increasing in popularity thanks to their brightness now being comparable with oil immersion dermatoscopes. Cross-polarised Dermatoscopes are more expensive, however they tend to be smaller, lighter and more efficient. Some devices offer an extendable faceplate in case interface fluid is required such as the DermLite DL3N and the Heine Delta 20 Plus.
The cost of a dermatoscope can range from a few hundred dollars to more than a thousand dollars depending on the manufacturer and model. Pocket-sized Dermatoscopes are the most cost-effective thanks to their smaller, more compact size. The Heine Mini 3000 LED Dermatoscope retails for $761 ex GST and is also maintenance free thanks to LED illumination that never has to be replaced.
Dermatoscope Sets are comparatively more expensive due to the additional inclusions such as charging stations, carry cases and contact plates. Our leading Dermatoscopy Set is the DermLite DL3N Dermatoscope which is an extremely portable size and requires no immersion fluid. The set comes with a desktop charger, leather carry pouch and eyepiece. The DL3N device features 28 high powered LEDs, PigmentBoost illumination technology and a long-lasting lithium battery and retails for $1395 ex GST.
Welch Allyn also manufacture their own version of a Dermatoscope called the EpiScope Skin Surface Microscope. Its benefit is that it can fit any 3.5V Welch Allyn power source for facility standardization and is relatively cost effective compared to other brands thanks to its reliance on halogen illumination. The EpiScope is available in a set or head only with sets beginning from $664 ex GST and the head only retailing for $575 ex GST.
How to use a Dermatoscope
For GPs who are looking to expand their skills into Dermascopy, we highly recommend enrolling in the free Skin Cancer Screening Online Short Course offered by HeartCert in partnership with the Skin Cancer Institute and Sonic Skin DX. The course program is based on the suite of skin cancer certificate courses delivered in collaboration with The University of Queensland, which has been attended by over 6,500 medical professionals worldwide. The objective of the short course is to provide GPs with a fundamental skill-set to screen and identify suspicious skin lesions in a busy general practice. The short course has been purpose-built for GPs with no or little previous training in skin cancer management who would like to develop these essential skills in an outcome-driven online program that fits into their busy schedule. The course is delivered online in short video lectures and upon registration, participants will gain access to all course content and enjoy a flexible learning experience within their own home, in their own time and on their favourite mobile device. >> Register or find out more here
USA brand, DermLite is our preferred Dermatoscope brand. It is the world’s best-selling dermatoscope brand and is followed closely by German manufacturer, Heine. Both brands offer an extended 5 year warranty from date of purchase. Welch Allyn also offer the EpiScope Skin Surface Microscope which comes with a 1 year warranty.
Dermatoscopy for Melanoma Detection
Dermoscopy has a higher sensitivity for melanoma detection than naked-eye examination and has been shown to be a useful and fairly inexpensive tool for melanoma detection in family practice. Dermatoscopy can increase family physicians’ confidence in their referral accuracy to dermatologists and can assist in decreasing unnecessary biopsies. The early phase of malignant melanoma is difficult to identify because it shares many features with an atypical nevus. Dermoscopy provides general practitioners with a new dimension in examining pigmented skin lesions and allows them to better identify the early phase of cutaneous malignant melanoma.