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Commercial real time PCR implementation for rapid diagnosis of onychomycosis: A new workflow in a clinical laboratory.

INTRODUCTION: Onychomycosis is a frequent and underdiagnosed condition. Approximately 90% of toenail onychomycosis infections are caused by dermatophytes, but classical diagnosis based on culture and microscopy observation is slow and has low sensitivity. Both limitations can be solved incorporating molecular techniques to routine diagnosis of onychomycosis.

OBJECTIVE: Prospective evaluation of the utility of incorporating in the clinical laboratory workflow a commercial real time PCR (qPCR) for dermatophytes detection in nails after potassium hydroxide direct observation screening.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: 152 nail samples were included (34 KOH negative and 118 KOH positive) and processed by culture and qPCR.

RESULTS: In the negative KOH group, only one dermatophyte grew in culture and three were detected by qPCR. In the group of positive KOH, 57 dermatophytes grew in culture and 81 were detected by qPCR. In this group, 25% of diagnosed dermatophytes were detected only by qPCR. The sensitivity of qPCR compared to culture is 92.8% and time of response decreases from days to hours.

CONCLUSION: Based in our results, we propose a workflow algorithm for a clinical laboratory that eliminates culture for qPCR positive samples.

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