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Authors: Prof. Robin Williams and Gigi Williams

Applications of the ultraviolet technique:

Application Notes Reference
Lead poisoning Loss of fluorescence under fingernails; increase in number of fluorescent erythrocytes. Costello & Luttenberger 1944
Peripheral vascular disease Described the technique of scratching the legs of patients with PVD followed by IV injection of sodium fluorescein. The presence of a bright fluorescence wheal around the scratch proved vascular sufficiency. Subsequently reported widespread application of the technique with excellent results. Neller & Schmidt 1945 Neller1945
Malaria, quinacrine medication Yellow green fluorescence of nails with adequate dosage. Ginsberg & Shallenberger 1946
Porphyria Demonstrated red fluorescence of urine. Kierland et al. 1946
Vitamin B deficiency Monitored vitamin B deficiency by observing changes in the red fluorescence of the tongue. Hirschfeld 1950
Tongue fluorescence Demonstrated that the posterior part of the dorsal surface of the tongue often fluoresces reddish-orange under ultraviolet due to autofluorescence of oral micro-organisms. Tomaszewski 1951
Vitamin B deficiency Demonstrated a marked decrease in the fluorescence with Vitamin B deficiency. Tomaszewski 1951
Ophthalmology Describes fluorescence of the crystalline lens and the cornea, increasing with age. Explains the ability of the eye to "see" ultraviolet - as a fluorescent flow. Ogilvie 1953
Vulval fluorescence Maintained that there were colour changes in the vulva which could be correlated to hormone levels. Confused conclusions however, due to mismatch of excitation and barrier filters. Benson & Vogel 1955
Porphyria Examined the cutaneous appearance of porphyria and found no evidence of fluorescence in the skin but only "dark patches" which when biopsied fluoresced under the microscope. Cornbleet 1956
Porphyria Demonstrated acute porphyria with ultraviolet induced fluorescence in a case of complicated caecal volvulus. Watson et al. 1958
Porphyria Demonstrated a photo-colorimetric method of determining the presence of porphyrins. Chu & Chu 1958
Lead poisoning Demonstrated that the erythrocytes of children suffering from lead poisoning fluoresced a strong red colour under ultraviolet excitation. Whittaker & Vietti 1959
Porphyria and urinary porphyrins Showed bright red. Urine pink to red fluorescence in fresh specimen only. Matlin 1959
Filarial worms Parasites take up tetracyclines and readily fluoresce through skin. Tobie & Beye 1960
Paper chromatograms Review paper of the fluorescence phenomena which also discussed the particular use of the technique for the recording of chromatograms. De Bruin 1961.
Chromatography In general chapters discussing ultraviolet photography the application of the fluorescence technique to chromatography was demonstrated and its value discussed. Hansell 1961
Documentation of radiation portals Described a fluorescein technique which used a fluorescent dye to mark the site of radiation therapy. Le Cover 1972


  • Benson, R. and Vogel, M., 1955, "The principles of identification and measurement of vulvar fluorescence," J. Clin. Endocrinol.15:748-800.
  • Chu, T. and Chu, E., 1958, "Colorimetric method for determination of urinary porphyrins," Anal. Chem. 30 (10):1678- 1680.
  • Cornbleet, T., 1956, "Cutaneous appearance of porphyria by ultraviolet light," AMA Arch. Derm. Jan:34-37.
  • De Bruin, J., 1961, "Principles of ultraviolet light and some of its applications in photography," J. Biol. Photogr. Ass. 29 (2):53-63.
  • Hirschfeld, R., 1950, "Clinical parallels to action of vitamin B on lingual fluorescence," Actadermat. Venereol. 30: 173-175.
  • Kierland, R., Sheard, C., Mason, H. and Lobitz, W., "Fluorescence of nails from quinacrine hydrochloride," JAMA 131: 809-810.
  • Le Cover, M., 1972, "Documenting radiation portals by the use of ultraviolet illumination," J. Biol. Photogr. Ass. 40 (1):9-12.
  • Matlin, E., 1959, "Ultraviolet radiation in general practice," G.P. May:99-101.
  • Neller, J., 1945, "The use of fluorescent wheals in determining extent and degree of peripheral vascular insufficiency" Ann. Surg. 122:898- 901.
  • Neller, J. and Schmidt, E., 1945, "Wheal fluorescence," Ann. Surg. 121 (3):328- 337.
  • Ogilvie, J., 1953, "Ultraviolet radiation and vision" Arch. Ophth. 50:748-763.
  • Tobie, J. and Beye, H., 1960, "Fluorescence of tetracyclines in filarial worms," Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 104:137-140.
  • Tomaszewski, W., 1951, "Fluorescence phenomena of the tongue," B. M. J. 1:117- 120.
  • Watson, C., Varco, R. and Schmidt, R., 1958, "Acute porphyria with caecal volvulus," Mod. Med. Feb:235-236.
  • Whittaker, J and Vietti, T ., 1959, "Fluorescence of the erythrocytes in lead poisoning in children: an aid to rapid diagnosis" Pediat. 24:734-738.

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Last modified: 3 May 2002