Research Papers

The Assessment of Melanoma Risk Using the Dynamic Infrared Imaging Technique

[+] Author and Article Information
M. Pirtini Çetingül

 Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218mpirtini@jhu.edu

C. Herman

 Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218cherman@jhu.edu

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 3(3), 031006 (Aug 12, 2011) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004424 History: Received September 29, 2010; Revised April 24, 2011; Published August 12, 2011; Online August 12, 2011

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Each year more than 53,600 people learn that they have melanoma, and around 8700 people die from melanoma in the United States. Early detection is the key to improving survival in patients with malignant melanoma. We developed a thermal (infrared) imaging system that allows accurate measurements of small temperature differences on the skin surface with the aim to diagnose malignant pigmented skin lesions at an early stage of the disease. The imaging method we developed relies on active infrared imaging and a multimodal image analysis strategy, including involuntary body/limb motion correction and interactive lesion segmentation for detecting malignant lesions. The imaging system described in the paper was tested in a pilot patient study in which patients who possess a pigmented lesion with a clinical indication for biopsy were selected to participate. The lesion and the surrounding healthy skin were cooled by air at 15 °C for 30–60 s, and the thermal recovery was imaged with the infrared camera after the removal of this cooling stress. We found that the benign lesions have a thermal recovery similar to normal skin, whereas the thermal recovery of the melanoma lesion is different. It was observed that a malignant skin lesion has a higher temperature than healthy skin during the thermal recovery process (up to 2.2 °C higher for a Clark’s level II melanoma). The present study shows the feasibility of dynamic thermal imaging in distinguishing malignant pigmented lesions from benign, look-alike pigmented lesions.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

(a) Exam room with our thermal imaging system at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Outpatient Center and (b) adhesive marker used to localize the pigmented lesion of interest and its surroundings

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Figure 2

Image processing steps of our dynamic thermal imaging procedure (a) corners of the adhesive marker localized and marked with green (top left) and blue (bottom right) dots and (b) corresponding points identified in the reference IR image; (c) alignment of the IR image sequences during thermal recovery phase—the two color coded infrared images for t = 30 s show the image before and after alignment; (d) delineated lesion after segmentation to create a mask image; (e) mask superimposed to the IR image

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Figure 3

(a-d) Digital and (e-h) dermoscopy images of four benign dysplastic nevi. The first three lesions are flush with the surrounding healthy skin, while the fourth lesion is an elevated intradermal nevus.

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Figure 4

Color-coded IR images of the region of interest at steady state conditions for the four benign dysplastic nevi shown in Fig. 3

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Figure 5

Color-coded IR images of the region of interest after cooling, t = 2 s into the thermal recovery phase, for the dysplastic nevi shown in Fig. 3. The black dots in the images indicate the points for which temperature data was obtained as a function of time.

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Figure 6

Temperature distributions as a function of time for the dysplastic nevi from Figs.  234 and surrounding healthy tissue. The points for which the temperature data are shown for each of the lesions are indicated with black dots in Fig. 5.

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Figure 7

Dimensionless temperature distributions as a function of time for the dysplastic nevi and healthy tissue: (a) for nevi flush with the surrounding tissue (Figs.  333) and for the (b) elevated nevus (Fig. 3)

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Figure 8

Comparison of a (a) benign pigmented lesion and (b-c) two malignant melanoma lesions



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