Interactive CD-ROM of Dermoscopy. Instructional Exercises for Practitioners by Ashfaq A. Marghoob, Ralph P. Braun and Alfred W. Kopf. ISBN: 9-781-84184-598-2. CD-ROM. Price: £145. London: Informa Healthcare, 2007.
This CD-ROM is published alongside the Atlas of Dermoscopy, a new textbook in dermoscopy. The editors are all American dermatologists and well-known authorities in dermoscopy. All the pictures in the atlas are published on the CD-ROM.
The interactive technique is the same throughout the disk. First one can analyse the dermoscopic picture of a lesion; with one click the picture, caption and clinical picture are displayed. In many cases, a further click displays the authors’ annotations for the picture. Here the authors emphasize what they consider to be the most important dermoscopic features for that lesion. The pictures can be used to test one’s own skill in dermoscopic analysis before clicking on the authors’ solution. The dermoscopic and clinical pictures are of high quality and the instructions clear, so it is easy to orientate between the different chapters and between cases. One generous option is that the user is allowed to download up to 30% of the 600 dermoscopic pictures, without applying for permission, for use in their own education.
The CD-ROM is organized with the same content as the book, but contains more than the book; new chapters that make it even more worthwhile to purchase the disk. In one new chapter the authors present 14 cases of collision tumours; tumours that often give rise to frustration when seen in the dermoscope. In an interesting new chapter ‘Questions and answers’ the user is taken through a series of 72 exciting cases, often with one or more clinical pictures, and is asked to identify certain structures, before being given the authors’ interpretation. It is very enjoyable to study these cases because they are reminders of what dermatologists see every day. At the end of the CD-ROM there is an ‘Unknowns’ section, which is also not found in the book. The first ‘unknown’ contains 50 instructive cases presented by Ralph P. Braun and the second 57 well-chosen educational cases presented by Alfred W. Kopf.
Of course, there will be different opinions on how to judge the specific lesions, and the user will not always agree with the authors’ view. Usually the authors seem to adhere to the definitions that emerged from the consensus meeting on dermoscopy in Rome 2002 (following an internet study), but they sometimes seem to use their own homemade definitions, the significance of which is not defined. For a European reader it is strange to read about ‘branched streaks’ inside the lesion when we have learned the significance of asymmetrical streaks at the border of a pigmented lesion as significant for melanoma.
The interactive technique on this CD-ROM is excellent and contributes to making it a valuable investment for dermatologists interested in improving preoperative diagnosis of pigmented lesions. This CD-ROM is not suitable as a first introduction to dermoscopy, but it is highly recommended both for beginners and for dermatologists who are already well trained in dermoscopy. Dermatologists who want to improve their skill will also enjoy browsing through the pictures and will learn something from every other lesion.
Erik Borglund MD