Incorporation of dermoscopy improves inter-observer agreement among dermatopathologists in histologic assessment of melanocytic neoplasms

Katherine Shi, Elsy Compres, Kara E. Walton, Lauren S. Mohan, Bin Zhang, Elnaz Panah, Victor L. Quan, Erin M. Garfield, Ayesha U. Khan, Daniel Kim, Pedram Yazdan, June K. Robinson, Pedram Gerami*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Histopathologic assessment of melanocytic neoplasms is the current gold standard of diagnosis. However, there are well recognized limitations including inter-observer diagnostic discordance. This study aimed to determine if integrating dermoscopy with histopathology of melanocytic neoplasms impacts diagnosis and improves inter-observer agreement. We conducted a prospective cohort study in a pigmented lesion clinic. Consecutive melanocytic lesions were identified for biopsy based on atypical gross or dermoscopic features. Standardized immunohistochemistry and levels were ordered on each specimen. The cases were randomized. Three dermatopathologists blinded to the clinical impression assessed each lesion. The cases were then re-randomized and re-assessed with addition of gross clinical and dermoscopic images. Inter-rater reliability (IRR) using Fleiss’ kappa statistic revealed an increase from 0.447 without to 0.496 with dermoscopy amongst all dermatopathologists. The kappa increased from 0.495 before to 0.511 with dermoscopy in separating high-grade atypia or melanoma from moderate atypia or less. In 16 of 136 cases, at least 2 of 3 dermatopathologists favored a diagnosis of melanoma only after dermoscopy. In total, the consensus grade of atypia changed in 24.3% (33/ 136) of cases thereby representing changes to excisional margins and patient follow up. This study is limited by the cohort size. Dermoscopy significantly impacts diagnosis and improves identification of early melanomas in high risk populations and improves inter-observer agreement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-108
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Dermatological Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Dermatopathology
  • Dermoscopy
  • Dysplastic nevi
  • Inter-observer agreement
  • Melanocytic neoplasm
  • Melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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