March 13, 2015
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Skin cancer biopsy site selfies aided in correct surgical site identification

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Skin cancer biopsy site selfies taken by patients were shown to be helpful for correct surgical site identification, according to recently published study results.

Determining the location of a skin cancer biopsy site prior to surgery presents challenges including a biopsy site located in an area of extensive field damage, the patient’s inability to definitely locate the site, and biopsy performed by one physician and treated by another, the researchers wrote.

Researchers conducted a quality improvement pilot study that was implemented in the practices of two Mohs surgeons. In phase 1, they recorded whether the dermatologic surgeon and patient were definitely able to identify the biopsy site, if photography was needed to ensure site agreement, and if photography was not available, whether additional confirmation was required. In phase 2, patients were requested to take biopsy site selfies with any digital device with camera capabilities. The patients were educated to take close-up and distant images. Data similar to phase 1 was collected, and included whether the biopsy site selfie was helpful in identifying the definitive biopsy site.

Two hundred seventy-eight skin cancer biopsy sites were assessed in phase 1, with physicians unable to identify the biopsy site in 17.6% of cases and patients unable to identify 25.5% of cases. Additional confirmation of a photograph was needed in 22.7% of cases.

One hundred thirty-two consecutive biopsies were assessed in phase 2 of the study, with biopsy selfies available for 73 biopsies (55.3% of consecutive patient encounters). In the second phase, physicians were unable to identify the biopsy site in 17.4% of cases, while patients were unable to identify the biopsy site in 15.2% of cases. There were 64.1% of patients externally referred for which no external image was available who provided selfies, with the selfies found to be crucial in biopsy site identification in 21.2% of those cases. — by Bruce Thiel

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.