Historically recalcitrant to treatment, infection of the nail unit is a pervasive clinical condition affecting about 10%-20% of the U.S. population; patients present with both cosmetic symptomatology and pain, with subsequent dystrophic morphology. To date, the presumptive infectious etiologies include classically-reported fungal dermatophytes, non-dermatophyte molds, and yeasts. Until now, the prevalence and potential contribution of bacteria to the clinical course of dystrophic nails had been relatively overlooked, if not dismissed. Previously, diagnosis had been largely made via clinical presentation, although microscopic examinations (KOH) of nail scrapings to identify fungal agents, and more recently, panel-specific PCR assays have been employed to elucidate causative infectious agents. Each of these tools suffers from test-specific limitations. However, molecular-age medicine now includes DNA-based tools to universally assess any microbe or pathogen with a known DNA sequence. This affords clinicians with rapid DNA sequencing technologies at their disposal. These sequencing-based diagnostic tools confer the accuracy of DNA level certainty, while concurrently obviating cultivation or microbial phenotypical biases. Using DNA sequencing-based diagnostics, the results herein document the first identification and quantification of significant bacterial, rather than mycotic, pathogens to the clinical manifestation of dystrophic nails. In direct opposition to the prevailing and presumptive mycotic-based etiologies, the results herein invoke questions about the very basis for our current standards of care, including effective treatment regimens.
Background: Historically recalcitrant to treatment, infection of the nail unit is a pervasive clinical condition affecting approximately 10% to 20% of the US population; patients present with both cosmetic symptomatology and pain, with subsequent dystrophic morphology. To date, the presumptive infectious etiologies include classically reported fungal dermatophytes, nondermatophyte molds, and yeasts. Until now, the prevalence and potential contribution of bacteria to the clinical course of dystrophic nails had been relatively overlooked, if not dismissed. Previously, diagnosis had largely been made by means of clinical presentation, although microscopic examinations (potassium hydroxide) of nail scrapings to identify fungal agents and, more recently, panel-specific polymerase chain reaction assays have been used to elucidate causative infectious agents. Each of these tools suffers from test-specific limitations.
Methods: Molecular-age medicine now includes DNA-based tools to universally assess any microbe or pathogen with a known DNA sequence. This affords clinicians with rapid DNA sequencing technologies at their disposal. These sequencing-based diagnostic tools confer the accuracy of DNA-level certainty, and concurrently obviate cultivation or microbial phenotypical biases.
Results: Using DNA sequencing-based diagnostics, the results in this article document the first identification and quantification of significant bacterial, rather than mycotic, pathogens to the clinical manifestation of dystrophic nails.
Conclusions: In direct opposition to the prevailing and presumptive mycotic-based causes, the results in this article invoke questions about the very basis for our current standards of care, including effective treatment regimens.
Onychomycosis is a common problem seen in clinical practice. Given the differential diagnosis of dystrophic nails, it is helpful to obtain a definitive diagnosis of dermatophyte infection before initiation of antifungal therapy. Potassium hydroxide preparation and fungal culture, which are typically used in the diagnosis of these infections, often yield false-negative results. Recent studies have suggested that nail plate biopsy with periodic acid–Schiff stain may be a very sensitive technique for the diagnosis of onychomycosis. In this article, we review the literature on the utility of histopathologic analysis in the evaluation of onychomycosis. Many of these studies indicate that biopsy with periodic acid–Schiff is the most sensitive method for diagnosing onychomycosis. We propose that histopathologic examination is indicated if the results of other methods are negative and clinical suspicion is high; therefore, it is a useful complementary technique in the diagnosis of onychomycosis. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 95(3): 258–263, 2005)
Calcifying aponeurotic fibroma is a rare benign fibrous tumor predominantly seen in children and adolescents younger than 20 years. This tumor is often treated with complete surgical excision, although the recurrence rate is approximately 50%. The distal upper and distal lower extremities are most commonly involved, with only three cases published to date involving pedal digits. We discuss a case of calcifying aponeurotic fibroma in a 25-year-old woman localized to the medial aspect of the distal hallux. Clinical, radiographic, and magnetic resonance imaging findings are described. After an incisional biopsy and histopathologic findings confirmed that the lesion was benign, a complete excision was performed, and diagnosis was established for calcifying aponeurotic fibroma. At 6 months, the patient had healed uneventfully, and no recurrence has been noted. Malignant transformation is rare but has been documented, warranting concern for clinicians and patients.
Six hundred twenty-nine Medicare patients were evaluated for the presence of onychauxic toenails that in the judgment of the examiners required reduction. Forty-two percent of this group had five or fewer toenails requiring reduction and 24.3% had six or more toenails requiring reduction. Statistics reported by a regional Medicare-contracted carrier for the years 1997 to 1999 showed that 95% of claims submitted for nail debridement were for six or more nails and 5% were for five or fewer nails. The 1999 Medicare Part B data listed the top 300 Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) foot-care codes in order of utilization. Code 11721 (debridement of six or more nails) was number one. National statistics from the Health Care Financing Administration in 1999 indicated approximately a 5:1 ratio in favor of CPT code 11721 (six or more nails). In contrast, this study found a ratio of 2:1 in favor of CPT code 11720 (five or fewer nails). (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 93(5): 388-391, 2003)
Foot and ankle health among the homeless is an important public health concern. There are limited studies done thus far on foot and ankle conditions and the podiatric medical needs of homeless populations. A literature review was undertaken to evaluate any studies published about the lower-extremity health needs among the homeless.
We did a literature search through PubMed, the US National Library of Medicine’s database of biomedical citations and abstracts for relevant publications from 1988 through 2008. We also searched the references cited in the articles found for any studies relevant to podiatric needs for homeless populations.
We found three relevant articles that addressed the needs of podiatric care for the homeless. The articles highlighted the community health importance of foot care for homeless populations, especially in helping prevent potentially limb-threatening pathologies.
The small number of studies published so far all emphasize the major public health need for podiatric care among homeless populations. More studies are needed to help address this important public health concern. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 102(1): 54–56, 2012)
It is well established and accepted that fungi are a major contributing factor in nail dystrophy. It has also been recognized that bacteria play a crucial role in onycholysis. However, the bacteria and fungi that can be grown on culture media in the laboratory are only a small fraction of the total diversity that exists in nature. Contemporary studies have revealed that fungi and bacteria often form physically and metabolically interdependent consortia that harbor properties and pathogenicity distinct from those of their individual components. Metagenomic DNA “shotgun” sequencing has proved useful in determining microbial etiology in clinical samples, effective for not only bacteria but also fungi, archaea, and viruses.
Thirty-nine consecutive nail and subungual debris samples with suspected onychomycosis were sent for laboratory analysis using three examination techniques: DNA sequencing, polymerase chain reaction analysis, and standard fungal culture. The nail plate and surrounding areas were disinfected with an ethyl alcohol swab before nail sampling. Samples from 16 patients were analyzed for suspected onychomycosis with DNA sequencing, searching a database of 25,000 known pathogens. These results were compared with 15 real-time polymerase chain reaction screening assays and eight fungal cultures sampled with the same methods.
The DNA sequencing detected 32 species of bacteria and 28 species of fungi: 50% were solely bacterial, 6.3% were solely fungal, and 43.7% were mixed communities of bacteria and fungi.
Toenails tested with DNA sequencing demonstrated the presence of both bacteria and fungi in many samples. Further work is required to fully investigate its relevance to nail pathology and treatment.
Nail pathologies have a broad range of origin and may sometimes be complicated in presentation or clinical course, specifically when the pathology remains recalcitrant after treatment. In this case report we discuss a pathologic disorder that was initially misdiagnosed as a pyogenic granuloma surrounding an ingrown nail but was later found to be a benign neoplastic bone growth, Dupuytren exostosis, also known as a subungual exostosis. Operative treatment was deemed appropriate for the patient, and the exostosis was resected, leaving a soft-tissue void at the distal toe. The remaining void was filled with a perinatal graft, the use of which has been deemed effective anecdotally in both chronic and acute lower-extremity wounds but has not been widely discussed in the lower-extremity literature. This graft was placed to aid in wound healing over a potentially difficult wound bed. As amniotic, chorionic, and umbilical grafts become more prevalent in lower-extremity surgery, its antitumor effects should be further explored and published. This is the first case report, to our knowledge, of the successful use of a perinatal graft in the setting of a bone tumor, and it demonstrates that certain benign neoplasms can be treated with resection and placement of a perinatal graft while helping to prevent chronic wounds at surgical sites.