Out-of-plane Stokes imaging polarimeter for early skin cancer diagnosis

Pejhman Ghassemi, Paul Lemaillet, Thomas A. Germer, Jeffrey W. Shupp, Suraj S. Venna, Marc E. Boisvert, Katherine E. Flanagan, Marion H. Jordan, Jessica C. Ramella-Roman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Optimal treatment of skin cancer before it metastasizes critically depends on early diagnosis and treatment. Imaging spectroscopy and polarized remittance have been utilized in the past for diagnostic purposes, but valuable information can be also obtained from the analysis of skin roughness. For this purpose, we have developed an out-of-plane hemispherical Stokes imaging polarimeter designed to monitor potential skin neoplasia based on a roughness assessment of the epidermis. The system was utilized to study the rough surface scattering for wax samples and human skin. The scattering by rough skin-simulating phantoms showed behavior that is reasonably described by a facet scattering model. Clinical tests were conducted on patients grouped as follows: benign nevi, melanocytic nevus, melanoma, and normal skin. Images were captured and analyzed, and polarization properties are presented in terms of the principal angle of the polarization ellipse and the degree of polarization. In the former case, there is separation between different groups of patients for some incidence azimuth angles. In the latter, separation between different skin samples for various incidence azimuth angles is observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number076014
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Benign nevi
  • Melanocytic nevus
  • Melanoma
  • Rough surface scattering
  • Stokes imaging polarimeter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

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