Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) has been introduced in clinical settings as a tool enabling a quasi-histologic view of a given tissue, without performing a biopsy. It has been applied to many fields of medicine mainly to the skin and to the analysis of skin cancers for both in vivo and ex vivo CLSM. In vivo CLSM involves reflectance mode, which is based on refractive index of cell structures serving as endogenous chromophores, reaching a depth of exploration of 200 µm. It has been proven to increase the diagnostic accuracy of skin cancers, both melanoma and nonmelanoma. While histopathologic examination is the gold standard for diagnosis, in vivo CLSM alone and in addition to dermoscopy, contributes to the reduction of the number of excised lesions to exclude a melanoma, and to improve margin recognition in lentigo maligna, enabling tissue sparing for excisions. Ex vivo CLSM can be performed in reflectance and fluorescent mode. Fluorescence confocal microscopy is applied for “real-time” pathological examination of freshly excised specimens for diagnostic purposes and for the evaluation of margin clearance after excision in Mohs surgery. Further prospective interventional studies using CLSM might contribute to increase the knowledge about its application, reproducing real-life settings.
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