"What is that? A magnifier?"
So this morning, I met a paediatrician colleague in the hospital and he curiously pointed to the "black colored tool" that I was holding.
We all know the cardiologists use stethoscopes. Yes, the thing that hang on the doctor's shoulder in typical "comic doctor" illustration. And the gastroenterologists use endoscopes. And yes, we dermatologists do have our "scopes" to play with. Many people including our fellow doctor colleagues have not came across it though.
Dermoscope is a bit more than a magnifier. Apart from a good quality magnification lens, it comes with strong light and polorised filter, which is why it is much more expensive than a magnifying glass. How much? I spent 4 digits on this one more than 4 years ago, when our ringgit exchange rate was better than now.
What does it do? Essentially it is a form of skin surface microscopy. So your dermatologists can use it to look at the colours and the structures of the skin, nails and hair. This can help diagnosing skin conditions, in particular pigmented problems without or prior to cutting your skin and examined it under a microscope. So dermoscopy can cut down unnecessary skin biopsy. Of course, dermoscopy examination are not meant to replace skin biopsy. A lot of time, skin biopsy is still necessary for ultimate confirmation of a diagnosis, especially that of a suspicious skin cancers.
Oh, and we can connect this to a camera or a phone to take a clear picture of the skin too. :)