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Scanning Electron Microscope Imaging of Onychomycosis

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  • 1 Private practice, Boca Raton, FL.
  • | 2 College of Dental Medicine, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL. (Research completed during fourth year, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL.)
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Although scanning electron microscope technology has been used for more than 60 years in many fields of medical research, no studies have focused on obtaining high-resolution microscopic images of onychomycosis of the toenail caused by Trichophyton rubrum in a geriatric population. To provide new insight into the intricate structure and behavior of chronic toenail onychomycosis, we produced three-dimensional images of onychomycosis obtained from two geriatric patients with confirmed growth of T rubrum. The photomicrographs illustrate the pervasive integration and penetration of the fungus hyphal elements, underscoring the clinical difficulty of obtaining rapid treatment of fungal infections in the distal and lateral subungual space of the human toenail. Although the scanning electron microscope may not be a practical diagnostic tool for most physicians, it remains invaluable for the researcher to obtain insight into the spatial orientation, behavior, and appearance of onychomycosis. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 94(4): 356–362, 2004)

Corresponding author: Michael David Scherer, BS, PO Box 272207, Boca Raton, FL 33427 (e-mail: Michael@scherer.net).