In collaboration with the University Clinic for Dermatology and Venerology in Magdeburg as well as the partners Dornheim Medical Images GmbH and Hasomed GmbH, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF have developed a full body scanner intended to help doctors diagnose skin conditions.
"The scanner delivers standard data for the evaluation of skin,” says Christian Teutsch, Ph.D, researcher at Faunhofer IFF. “At the same time, it improves documentation of the development every single conspicuous mole.” When the exam starts, the surface of the patient's skin is scanned from different positions and broken down into approximately one hundred individual scans. Such image documentation already exists, however the Dermascanner also generates 3D data so that size and changes in growth can be monitored. The 3D data is fused with the 2D scans, thus assigning a scale to every single pixel in the image. The 3D sensors and cameras are calibrated so that their location in space is known precisely. The beams of light from the camera striking the mole can be assigned a precise 3D distance. Even when different scans have not been taken from the exact same distance, the doctor can apply the scale to determine the actual proportions precisely. The scanned data and scans are fed into analysis software and analyzed and presorted by automatic classification. The software compares any existing earlier scans of development with current images. "Our technology detects growth upwards of half a millimeter," says Teutsch. Another advantage is that the scanned 3D data enables a doctor to clearly locate every single mole again.
"A single patient frequently has several hundred moles," says Harald Gollnick, Ph.D., director of the University Clinic for Dermatology and Venerology. When such a high-risk patient visits the doctor again after a while, common methods of examination cannot discern whether the location and size moles on skin covered with pigmentation spots are still identical. "The new full body, early skin cancer detection system makes a nearly standard evaluation of skin condition and changes possible for the first time," says Gollnick. Doctors will have both the scan results and the scans with an additional 3D depth map, which records the distance of the individual pixels in the scan, at their disposal to make a more informed and accurate diagnosis.