Reflectance confocal microscopy of pigmented basal cell carcinoma

Anna Liza Chan Agero, Klaus J. Busam, Cristiane Benvenuto-Andrade, Alon Scope, Melissa Gill, Ashfaq A. Marghoob, Salvador González, Allan C. Halpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Reflectance confocal microscopy (RCM) is a high-resolution imaging tool for in vivo noninvasive evaluation of skin lesions. Objective: We sought to describe the relevant RCM features for pigmented basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Methods: Pigmented skin lesions with a differential diagnosis of pigmented BCC were imaged using dermoscopy and RCM, followed by excision for histologic analysis. Results: RCM demonstrated aggregations of tightly packed cells with palisading, forming cordlike structures and nodules with irregular borders and variable brightness; these represented nests of pigmented basaloid tumor cells on histopathology, and blue-gray ovoid areas on dermoscopy. These tumor nests were associated with bright dendritic structures, identified histologically as either melanocytes or Langerhans cells, together with numerous bright oval to stellate-shaped structures with indistinct borders representing melanophages, and with highly refractile granules of melanin. Limitations: The pigmented BCCs imaged in this study were predominantly nodular; a different set or additional criteria may be necessary for detection of infiltrative and metatypical BCCs. Conclusion: RCM may permit in vivo diagnosis of pigmented BCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-643
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


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