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Epiluminescence Microscopy and Dermatoscope: New Tools to evaluate Moles

Crutchfield Dermatology uses new, painless method to detect and prevent skin cancer

Crutchfield Dermatology, in Eagan, is employing a new tool for the improved detection and prevention of skin cancer.

Called the Dermatoscope, it not only improves the ability to detect skin abnormalities, but it also vastly improves the comfort of the patient while being examined.

The Dermatoscope contains an illuminated magnifying lens that allows physicians to look deep inside the mole, making the identification of suspicious moles easier without the need for a biopsy.

“This is a very special skin-surface microscope. You can do a much better job with this than with the naked eye,” said Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III, founder of Crutchfield Dermatology and nationally recognized authority on the Dermatoscope.

In fact, studies show that dermatologists have an greater than 80 percent accuracy rate when they visually examine moles. But when thy use a Dermatoscope, it dramatically increases their accuracy to more than 95 percent, Crutchfield said.

“It greatly enhances the ability of dermatologists to make a correct diagnosis,” he said. “It’s a terrific tool for the evaluation of moles to let you know if they are either harmless or suspicious enough to warrant a biopsy.” It’s also a patient-friendly way to examine moles, he said.

“The beauty of this is you don’t have to do a biopsy,” he said. “And patients love it because they don’t have to get a shot or stitches. It’s quick and painless.”

The examination takes only 15 to 30 seconds per mole. A thin layer of mineral oil is applied to the mole first, causing the top layer of skin to become completely transparent and allowing physicians to look deep inside the lesion in question.

“It’s very beneficial in cases where people have dozens or even hundreds of moles because it allows you to evaluate the most suspicious ones,” he said. “Most dermatologists think this is a great addition to the field, and it’s becoming a standard of practice.”

Dr. Crutchfield is willing to be interviewed to discuss the success of this new form of skin cancer detection.

Charles E. Crutchfield III, M.D. is a graduate of the Mayo Clinic Medical School and Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine. He finished his internship year at the Gundersen Clinic. He completed his dermatology residency at the University of Minnesota. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Dermatology and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. Dr. Crutchfield is a Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota, in addition to running his private practice in Eagan, Minnesota.

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