Pictures from a camera phone can help doctors diagnose remotely unusual conditions that may be hard to see under normal conditions, a medical journal reported today.
In an article published on bmj.com, doctors in Norway described the case of a 25-year-old pregnant woman who reported frequent episodes of severe nipple pain.
The pain came whenever her fingers, toes or nipples got cold, such as when walking barefoot on a cold floor or taking a shower. The episodes typically lasted between five and 15 minutes and were so painful they made her cry.
The colour of her nipples also changed; first white combined with a tingling pain ("tightening a vice screw"), then blue with a burning pain ("pouring acid"), and finally a red phase combined with numbness as the pain decreased. After the birth of her baby, the pain was so intense that she considered giving up breastfeeding.
She sent doctors three photographs from her camera phone showing the colour changes of a typical episode.
From the photographs, doctors diagnosed Raynaud's phenomenon of the nipple. The symptoms disappeared completely within a week after treatment, and she was able to continue breastfeeding with no side effects.