VivaScope May Eliminate Need For Routine Skin Biopsies For Dermatology Patients
Many routine surgical biopsies could become a thing of the past as dermatologists may soon be sharing, reviewing and diagnosing noninvasive digital images of skin cells via the Internet, using Lucid Inc.'s VivaNet telemedicine server and its VivaScope confocal imagers.
The technology, which relies on using special microscopes to digitally image a patient's skin, may bypass the need to surgically biopsy many patients. "VivaScope imaging sessions require only 5 to 10 minutes of a physician's assistant's time," said Jay Eastman, Ph.D., CEO, Lucid Inc.
The cellular resolution images may then be used by physicians to assist in forming a clinical judgment for a variety of skin conditions, including, for example, melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, actinic keratoses, and contact dermatitis.
A typical VivaScope imaging session produces two types of images of the patient's skin: dermatoscopic-quality, full-color macroscopic pictures, and microscopic, cellular resolution images. Like a routine biopsy, the images can then be read by a dermatologist or a pathologist and the diagnosis presented to the patient.
"Just as MRI and CT scans have largely eliminated the need for routine exploratory surgery, in-vivo confocal imaging may one day eliminate the need for routine invasive skin biopsy," Eastman stated.
Improving Quality of Life for Dermatology Patients
Already, dozens of Lucid's VivaScopes are in regular use throughout the U.S. and Europe. "Lucid's VivaScope 1500 has the capability of imaging virtually all types of skin cancers, which makes it useful for many everyday procedures in a dermatology practice," stated Dr. Harold Rabinovitz, a Florida based dermatologist who specializes in skin cancer. "The VivaScope is an incredible diagnostic tool and now routinely aids me in the clinical evaluation of potential skin cancers."
The Company is also developing an Internet-based application, the Lucid VivaNet, to enable the transfer of VivaScope digital images between practitioners and pathologists for rapid review of confocal images. The VivaNet technology conforms to DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine), an internationally accepted standard for the secure storage, retrieval and transfer of medical images, and it complies with federal HIPAA requirements for privacy and integrity of medical data.
Ultimately, the VivaNet could make VivaScope images available for review by other dermatologists and pathologists -- anywhere in the world -- in minutes, not days -- thus enabling rapid, real-time professional collaboration. The ultimate goal is that practitioners will rapidly receive a pathologic interpretation of confocal images from a VivaScope session, potentially assisting the practitioner in arriving at a clinical judgment while the patient is still in the doctor's office, Eastman said.
"It's our hope that the VivaScope and VivaNet will improve the quality of life for dermatology patients by eliminating the need for painful, invasive skin biopsies and drastically reducing the time required for diagnosis and treatment," Eastman said.