Measuring Cutaneous Lesions: Trends in Clinical Practice

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Knowing the size of a cutaneous lesion can be important for tracking its progression over time, selecting the proper treatment modality, surgical planning, determining prognosis, and accurate billing. However, providers vary in their consistency, accuracy, and methods of measuring cutaneous lesions.

OBJECTIVE

To investigate the clinical practices of US dermatologists and dermatologic surgeons regarding how they determine the size of cutaneous lesions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

A survey was electronically distributed to members of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

RESULTS

Four hundred twenty-six dermatologists completed the online survey. When a lesion is suspected to be malignant, 85% of respondents obtained exact measurements most, if not all, of the time; however, only 8% did for benign lesions. Most providers determined lesion sizes themselves rather than delegating to staff. When performing visual estimation, approximately three-quarters believed that they were accurate to within 1 to 2 mm. The top reasons for obtaining exact measurements were for tracking atypical pigmented lesions, determining treatment pathways, and accurate billing.

CONCLUSION

The majority of respondents believed that lesion size affected management decisions; however, the need for exact measurement remains controversial, particularly for benign lesions. Future studies may investigate whether taking exact versus estimated measurements has an effect on outcomes.

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