Spectroscopy and optical diagnostic techniques are generally well known topics that have applications in fields outside of biomedical engineering. They are successful in these other fields because the materials that they analyze are not as complex as living tissues. In fact, biological tissues are so much different that they are often categorized as "turbid media". Their photon-material interactions are much more complicated due to the multiple scattering and absorption properties of the various chromophores that constitute the biological tissue. That is why the goal of every optical technique for quantitative tissue characterization is the ability to separate and differentiate these optical properties from one another, but in order to do so, vast amounts of research power must be invested into fully understanding tissue-light interactions. Optical diagnostics in biomedical engineering is a relatively new field of research and is definitely not perfect yet. There is still much to be understood, but that does not undermine it's future potential to patients and clinicians.
Each optical diagnostic technique discussed on this website has their own advantages and disadvantages compared to one another, and yet they all share the distinction of possibly being very efficient and effective in future melanoma diagnostics and treatment. One day, these technologies would make it easier for clinicians to identify melanoma before they become life threatening. They will take the place of unnecessary biopsies and create much less discomfort for patients who already have enough to worry about. With the advent of higher personal computing power, it won't be unlikely to see these optical diagnostic machines in the operating room, analyzing a patient's vitals in realtime and aiding in creating a world in which the mortality rate of melanoma isn't so high.
John Nguyen 2010