Skin examination by high-frequency ultrasound

Authors: V. Resl 1;  M. Leba 1;  I. Rampl 2;  J. Říčař 1
Authors‘ workplace: Dermatovenerologická klinika LFUK a FN Plzeň Vedoucí: prof. MUDr. Karel Pizinger, CSc. 1;  Fakulta elektroniky a komunikačních technologií Vysokého učení technického v Brně a Enjoy spol. s r. o. Vedoucí: Doc. Ing. Ivan Rampl, CSc. 2
Published in: Prakt. Lék. 2008; 88(1): 6-13
Category: Reviews


The introduction of high frequency ultrasound scanners has made it possible for non-invasive technology to be used in dermatology. It is possible to create an image of the skin’s structure by means of ultrasonic waves and computer technology, which is of use in research, diagnostics and follow-up examinations of therapeutic procedures. The sensitivity and scope of this method’s possibilities depend firstly on the physical quality of the ultrasound waves and then on the technique used (especially scanners) and then on the characteristics and composition of the skin under observation, which significantly influences the spread of acoustic signal within the tissue. The more MHz the probe has, the more detailed the image we derive, but we gain lower depth. In dermatology the most commonly used probes have a frequency of 20 MHz. This technique gained ground in investigation of oedemas and in wound healing, determining skin thickness, psoriasis therapy, scleroderma, and panniculitis. This application is important in melanomas and squamous-cell carcinomas. The differentiation of some structures such as nevi, sebaceous glands or hair follicles in difficult. A lot depends on the lateral and axial resolution of the device, so 50–100 MHz probes are used to study epidermal structures, sebaceous glands etc. Our device (50 MHz) is mostly used in studying the electromagnetic and light field influence on skin as part of a wider research project.

Key words:
high frequency ultrasound, diagnostics, ultrasound use in dermatology.


1. Agner, T., Serup, J. Skin reactions to irritants assessed by non-invasive bioengineering methods. Contact Dermatitis 1989, 20, p. 352-359.

2. Altmeyer, P., El Gammal, S., Hoffman, K. Ultrasound in dermatology. Berlin Heidelberg New York: Springer Verlag, 1992.

3. Breitbart, E.W., Müler, C.E., Hicks, R., Vieluf, D. Neue Entwicklungen der Ultraschalldiagnostik in der Dermatologie, Akt. Dermatol, 1989, 15, s. 57-61.

4. Eisenbeiss, C., Welzel, J., Eichler, W., Klotz, K. Influence of body water distribution on skin thickness: measurements using high-frequency ultrasound. Br. J. Dermatol. 2001, 144, p. 947-951.

5. Čech, E. a kol. Ultrazvuk v lékařské diagnostice a terapii. Praha: Avicenum, 1982.

6. Escoffier, C., De Rigal, J., Rochefort, A. et al. Age related mechanical properties of human skin: an in vivo study. J. Invest. Dermatol. 1989, 93, p. 353-357.

7. Fajkošová, K. Možnosti využití vysokofrekvenčního ultrazvuku v dermatologii. Čes.-slov. Derm. 80, 2005, 1, s. 28-36.

8. El Gammal, S., Auer, T., Popp, C. et al. Psoriasis vulgaris in 50 MHz B-scan ultrasound-characteristic features of stratum corneum, epidermis and dermis Acta Derm. Venereol. Supplementum, 1994, 186, p. 173-176.

9. El Gammal, S., El Gammal, C., Kašpar, K. et al. Sonography of the skin at 100 MHz enables in vivo visualization of stratum corneum and viable epidermis in palmar skin and psoriatic plaques. J. Invest. Dermatol. 1999, 113, p. 821-829.

10. Gniadecka, M., Gniadecki, R., Serup, J., Sondergaard, J. Ultrasound structure and digital image analysis of the subepidermal low echogenic band in aged human skin: diurnal changes and interindividual variability. J. Invest. Dermatol. 1994, 102, p. 362-365.

11. Gniadecka, M. Dermal oedema in lipodermatosclerosis: distribution, effects of posture and compressive therapy evaluated by high-frequency ultrasonography. Acta Derm. Venereol. 1995, 75, p. 120-124.

12. Gniadecka, M., Karlsmark, T., Bertram, A. Removal of dermal edema with class I and II compression stockings in patients with lipodermatosclerosis. J. Amer. Acad. Dermatol. 1998, 39, 6, p. 966-970.

13. Gniadecka, M., Jemec, G.B. Quantitative evaluation of chronological ageing and photoageing in vivo: studies on skin echogenicity and thickness. Br. J. Dermatol. 1998, 139, p. 815-821.

14. Gupta, A.K., Turnbull, D.H., Harasiewicz, K.A. et al. The use of high-frequency ultrasound as a method of assessing the severity of a plaque of psoriasis. Archives of Dermatology 1996, 132, p. 658-662.

15. Harland, C.C., Bamber, J.C., Gusterson, B.A., Mortimer, P.S. High frequency, high resolution B-scan ultrasound in the assessment of skin tumors Br. J. Dermatol. 1993, 128, p. 525-532.

16. Haedersdal, M., Efsen, J., Gniadecka, M. et al. Changes in skin redness, pigmentation, echostructure, thickness, and surface contour after 1 pulsed dye laser treatment of port-wine stains in children. Archives of Dermatology, 1998, 134, p. 175-181.

17. Hoffman, K., Stucker, M., El Gammal, S., Altemeyer, P. Digitale 20-MHz sonographie des basaliomas im b-scan. Hautarzt 1990, 41, p. 333-339.

18. Hoffmann, K., Winkler, K., El-Gammal, S., Altmeyer P. A wound healing model with sonographic monitoring. Clinical & Experimental Dermatology 1993, 18, p. 217-225.

19. Hoffmann, K., Auer, T., Stucker, M. et al. Comparison of skin atrophy and vasoconstriction due to mometasone furoate, methylprednisolone and hydrocortisone. JEADV, 1998, 10, p. 137-142.

20. Hoffmann, K., Dirschka, T., Stucker, M. et al. Assessment of actinic skin damage by 20-MHz sonography. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photmed 1994, 10, p. 97-101.

21. Ihn, H., Shimozuma, M., Fujimoto, M. et al. Ul-trasound measurement of skin thickness in systemic sclerosis. Br. J. Rheumatol. 1995, 34, p. 535–538.

22. Jemec, G.B.E., Gniadecka, M., Ulrich, J. Ultrasound in dermatology. Part I. High frequency ultrasound. Eur. J. Dermatol. 2000, 10, p. 492-497.

23. Jemec, G.B.E., Serup, J. Ultrasound structure of the human nail plate. Arch. Dermatol. 1989, 125, p. 643-646.

24. Jemec, G.B.E., Gniadecka, M. Ultrasound examination of hair follicles in hidradenitis suppurativa. Arch. Dermatol. 1997, 133, 8, p. 967-970.

25. Korting, H.C., Gottlöber, P., Schmid-Wendtner, M.H., Peter, R.U. Ultraschall in der Dermatologie. Ein Atlas. Berlin: Blackwell Wissenschafts Verlag 1999.

26. Krahn, G., Gottlober, P., Sander, C., Peter, R.U. Dermatoscopy and high frequency sonography: two useful non-invasive methods to increase preoperative diagnostic accuracy in pigmented skin lesions. Pigment Cell Res. 1998, 111, p. 151-154.

27. De Rigal, J., Escoffier, C., Querleux, B. et al. Assessment of aging of the human skin in vivo by ultrasound imaging. J. Invest. Dermatol. 1989, 93, p. 621-625.

28. Seidenari, S., Pagnoni, A., Di Nardo, A., Giannetti, A. Echographic evaluation with image analysis of normal skin: variations according to age and sex. Skin Pharmacol. 1994, 7, p. 201- 209.

29. Serup, J., Staberg, B., Klemp, P. Quantification of cutaneous oedema in patch test reactions my measurement of skin thickness with high-frequency pulsed ultrasound. Contact Dermatitis 1984, 10, p. 88-93.

30. Serup, J., Staberg, B. Ultrasound for assessment of allergic and irritant patch test reactions. Contact Dermatitis 1998, 17, p. 80-84.

31. Stiller, M.J., Driller, J., Shupack, J.L. et al. Three-dimensional imaging for diagnostic ultrasound in dermatology. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 1993, 29, p. 171-175.

32. Schulz, Ch., Freitag, M., Kaspar, K. et al. Hochfrequente Sonographie in der Dermatologie. In: Plewig G., Wolff H.: Fortschritt der praktischen Dermatologie und Venerologie. Berlin: Springer 1998, s. 3-24.

33. Tan, C.Y., Marks, R., Payne, P.A. Comparison for xero radiographic and ultrasound detection in corticosteroid-induced dermal thinning. J. Invest. Dermatol. 1981, 76, p. 126-128.

34. Vaillant, L. High-Frequency Ultrasound of the Skin. In: Agache P., Humbert Ph. Measuring the Skin. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 2004, s. 204 – 214.

35. Wolf, P., Hoffmann, C., Quehenberger, F. et al. Immune protection factors of chemical sunscreens measured in the local contact hypersensitivity model in humans. J. Invest. Dermatol. 2003, 121, 5, p. 1080-1087.

General practitioner for children and adolescents General practitioner for adults
Forgotten password

Don‘t have an account?  Create new account

Forgotten password

Enter the email address that you registered with. We will send you instructions on how to set a new password.


Don‘t have an account?  Create new account