Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy of Dermoscopic Structures and Patterns Used in Melanoma Detection: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Natalie M. Williams, Kristina D. Rojas, John M. Reynolds, Deukwoo Kwon, Jackie Shum-Tien, Natalia Jaimes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Importance: Dermoscopy increases the diagnostic accuracy for melanoma. However, the accuracy of individual structures and patterns used in melanoma detection has not been systematically evaluated. Objective: To assess the diagnostic accuracy of individual dermoscopic structures and patterns used in melanoma detection. Data Sources: A search of Ovid Medline, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL, Scopus, and Web of Science was conducted from inception to July 2020. Study Selection: Studies evaluating the dermoscopic structures and patterns among melanomas in comparison with nonmelanoma lesions were included. Excluded were studies with fewer than 3 patients, studies in languages other than English or Spanish, studies not reporting dermoscopic structures per lesion type, and studies assessing only nail, mucosal, acral, facial, or metastatic melanomas or melanomas on chronically sun-damaged skin. Multiple reviewers applied these criteria, and 0.7% of studies met selection criteria. Data Extraction and Synthesis: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses reporting guideline and Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology reporting guideline were followed. Guidelines were applied via independent extraction by multiple observers. Data were pooled using a random-effects model. Main Outcomes and Measures: The prespecified outcome measures were diagnostic accuracy (sensitivity and specificity) and risk (odds ratio [OR]) of melanoma for the following dermoscopic structures/patterns: atypical dots/globules, atypical network, blue-white veil, negative network, off-centered blotch, peripheral-tan structureless areas, atypical vessels (eg, linear irregular, polymorphous), pseudopods, streaks, regression (ie, peppering, scarlike areas), shiny white structures, angulated lines, irregular pigmentation, and a multicomponent pattern. Results: A total of 40 studies including 22796 skin lesions and 5736 melanomas were evaluated. The structures and patterns with the highest ORs were shiny white structures (OR, 6.7; 95% CI, 2.5-17.9), pseudopods (OR, 6.7; 95% CI, 2.7-16.1), irregular pigmentation (OR, 6.4; 95% CI, 2.0-20.5), blue-white veil (OR, 6.3; 95% CI, 3.7-10.7), and peppering (OR, 6.3; 95% CI, 2.4-16.1). The structures with the highest specificity were pseudopods (97.3%; 95% CI, 94.3%-98.7%), shiny white structures (93.6%; 95% CI, 85.6%-97.3%), peppering (93.4%; 95% CI, 81.9%-97.8%), and streaks (92.1%; 95% CI, 88.4%-94.7%), whereas features with the highest sensitivity were irregular pigmentation (62.3%; 95% CI, 31.2%-85.8%), blue-white veil (60.6%; 95% CI, 46.7%-72.9%), atypical network (56.8%; 95% CI, 43.6%-69.2%), and a multicomponent pattern (53.7%; 95% CI, 40.4%-66.4%). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this systematic review and meta-analysis support the diagnostic importance of dermoscopic structures associated with melanoma detection (eg, shiny white structures, blue-white veil), further corroborate the importance of the overall pattern, and may suggest a hierarchy in the significance of these structures and patterns..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1078-1088
Number of pages11
JournalJAMA dermatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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