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Clinical Dermatology Illustrated: A regional approach Version: 2.0b

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Clinical Dermatology Illustrated: A regional approach
Version: 2.0b
John R.T. Reeves, M.D.
Howard Maibach, M.D.
Robert S. Scheinberg, M.D.
Publisher: Continuing Medical Education Association
Cost: $190 personal
$299 institutional

Review by James Dinulos, M.D.
Dermatology Online Journal 5(1): 13


Clinical Dermatology Illustrated is the CD-ROM version of the text by the same authors that was first published in 1984 and is now in its second edition. This highly interactive CD-ROM includes 60 audio pearls, over 340 high-resolution clinical images, 30 minutes of video featuring 10 common outpatient procedures, a basic dermatology formulary, patient instruction sheets and 20 hours of continuing medical education credit. It requires a Windows or Macintosh computer system with at least 4 MB RAM, CD-ROM drive, sound capability, monitor with at least 256-color display and a mouse. I utilized a Power Macintosh 7100/66 and did not have difficulty installing the software. However, I encountered difficulty installing an earlier version (2.0) onto my Windows system. I called the technical support line and received prompt service. They sent me the most recent version (2.0b), which installed easily.

The authors intend this CD-ROM to be useful to primary medical physicians in daily clinical practice. They have succeeded in creating a graphical interface that provides rapid and easy access to information. A Body map is an innovative approach to study common skin conditions by location, rather than by name. The user may select an anatomic region and choose from a list of common skin conditions. Tool bar, keyword search and index features make "surfing" this CD-ROM straightforward. Text, clinical images and patient education sheets are easily printed. This feature is particularly useful to primary medical physicians who may not have pre-printed patient information for the dermatology patient readily available.

Figure 1 Figure 2
Figure 1: Superficial spreading melanoma.
Figure 2: Nodular malignant melanoma.

Neither the CD-ROM nor the textbook is referenced, although clearly the content is authoritative, accurate and well written. The CD-ROM could be improved by including a brief list of key articles or resources for more in-depth study. The manuscript focuses on common dermatological conditions and targets what a busy clinician "needs to know". However, the section on alopecia should include specifics about scarring alopecia, since primary medical physicians also should be able to recognize this form of alopecia and facilitate early dermatology referral.

The audio-visual component of this CD-ROM illustrates the power of this educational medium. Computer generated images on my Macintosh approached the quality of the textbook images and are likely even better with newer computer systems. However, IBM compatible PC images were much smaller, especially the video images. Commentary accompanies many of the images and 10 common office procedures are demonstrated. The authors talk "to you" rather than "at you" with their causal and spontaneous discourse. This narrative teaching adds another dimension to learning that isn¹t possible with simply the written word.

Clinical Dermatology Illustrated is a well-conceived, well written and authoritative CD-ROM that is a useful daily reference for primary medical physicians. If I were a busy primary medical physician, I would want this CD-ROM available in my office. Moreover, this CD-ROM would be valuable for medical students, and trainees from multiple disciplines (including dermatology) as a guide to develop an approach to the diagnosis and management of common skin conditions.

Cost* Number of
Habif yes yes $179 3000 yes
yes $295 1767 yes
Fitzpatrick yes yes $79 595 yes
Saunders yes yes $275 2500 yes
Reeves yes yes $199 340 yes

Formulary Additional Features
Compared to print version
Habif yes yes yes yes yes
Rook yes

yes yes

Saunders yes yes

Reeves no no no yes N/A

Tables: Comparison of Features of Dermatology CD-ROMs Reviewed in This and Earlier 'Media Review' Sections of Dermatology On-Line Journal. *(All costs quoted are for personal purchases)