Diagnostic significance of the blue hue in dermoscopy of melanocytic lesions: A dermoscopic-pathologic study

  • Massi D
  • De Giorgi V
  • Carli P
 et al. 
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Abstract

In epiluminescence microscopy, the perception of a blue hue is generally considered a clue to malignancy, especially in clinically equivocal melanocytic skin lesions. However, melanocytic nevi can seldom show a blue hue under dermoscopy. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the histopathologic correlates of the blue hue seen in dermoscopy, to clarify its significance and diagnostic value. From a series of 224 consecutive pigmented skin lesions submitted to surgical excision, we selected all the melanocytic skin lesions (n. 36), blue nevi excluded, characterized by the presence of a blue hue dermoscopically. In agreement with recent refinement of dermoscopic semeiology, all cases were further classified in cases showing blue areas and cases showing blue-whitish veil by experts observers blinded to the final diagnosis. Histopathologically, the series included 23 (63.9%) melanocytic nevi and 13 (36.1%) melanomas. For each lesion, several histopathologic parameters related to both epidermal and dermal alterations were assessed. Blue areas were found in 21 melanocytic nevi and 7 melanomas, whereas blue-whitish veil was found in 6 melanomas and 2 nevi. Careful dermoscopic-histopathologic correlation demonstrated that blue areas are related to the presence of large amounts of melanin pigment, either within melanophages (in the context of areas of regression) or within pigmented melanocytes in the superficial dermis. Conversely, the histopathologic correlate of the blue-whitish veil resulted in the presence of an acanthotic epidermis with compact orthokeratosis overlying large amounts of melanin in the dermis. Such melanin was found not only within melanocytes but also in large clusters of melanophages within areas of regression in the dermis. In conclusion, the majority of melanocytic lesions characterized by the presence of blue areas were histopathologically diagnosed as melanocytic nevi whereas the presence of blue-whitish veil was highly indicative of malignant melanoma diagnosis (specificity 91% vs. 9% of blue areas; sensitivity 75% vs. 25% of blue areas). Thus, these two features of blue hue under dermoscopy cannot be longer considered as synonymous in dermoscopy setting, being associated with different histopathologic alterations and different diagnostic information.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Blue areas
  • Blue hue
  • Blue-whitish veil
  • Dermoscopy
  • Histopathologic correlates
  • Melanocytic nevus
  • Melanoma

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Authors

  • Daniela Massi

  • Vincenzo De Giorgi

  • Paolo Carli

  • Marco Santucci

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