UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Emerging Optical Techniques for the Diagnosis of Onychomycosis Petrokilidou, Chrysoula; Gaitanis, Georgios; Bassukas, Ioannis D; Velegraki, Aristea; Guevara, Edgar; Vardaki, Martha Z; Kourkoumelis, Nikolaos

Abstract

Onychomycosis is the most prevalent nail infection. Although it is not a life-threatening condition, it impacts the quality of life for many patients and often imposes a challenging diagnostic problem. The causative agents are dermatophytes, yeasts and non-dermatophytic moulds. Accurate and early diagnosis, including the identification of the causative species, is the key factor for rational therapy. Still, early diagnosis is not optimal as the current gold standard for the differentiation of the infectious agents is culture-based approaches. On the other hand, noninvasive optical technologies may enable differential diagnosis of nail pathologies including onychomycosis. When light penetrates and propagates along the nail tissue, it interacts in different ways with the components of either infected or healthy nail segments, providing a wealth of diagnostic information upon escaping the tissue. This review aims to assess alternative optical techniques for the rapid diagnosis of onychomycosis with a potential to monitor therapeutic response or even identify the fungal agent non-invasively and in real time in a clinical setting.

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