Dermatophyte test medium culture for evaluating toenail infections in patients with diabetes

Phoebe Rich, Lawrence B. Harkless, Ercem S. Atillasoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE - To evaluate the performance of the in-office dermatophyte test medium (DTM) culture when used to confirm the diagnosis of onychomycosis in diabetic patients. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - Nail samples from 184 diabetic patients who exhibited symptoms consistent with toenail onychomycosis were screened for dermatophyte fungal infection using DTM, potassium hydroxide evaluation, and central mycology laboratory culture tests. The diabetic patient group investigated in this study is a subset of a heterogeneous set of patients who participated in a nationwide survey designed to investigate the use of fungal culture tests by dermatologists, podiatrists, and primary, care physicians described in detail elsewhere. The overall sensitivity of the DTM and central laboratory culture methods was estimated and compared. Sensitivity differences between DTM and central laboratory culture methods were tested for statistical significance using the McNemar statistic. RESULTS - DTM culture was positive in 102 of 184 patients (55%), while the central laboratory culture test detected the existence of fungal infection in 78 of 184 (42%). The two tests were in agreement (both positive or both negative) in 114 of 184 patients (62%). Central laboratory culture identified dermatophytes as the pathogen in 91% of positive cases. CONCLUSIONS - DTM is a convenient and inexpensive culture test that can be used to confirm dermatophyte infections in diabetic patients with presumed onychomycosis. We found this test to be well suited for use in the primary care setting. Because oral antifungal agents are effective against dermatophyte species, which cause the vast majority of nail infections, diagnosis of onychomycosis requires confirmation of dermatophyte infection only, not identification of genus and species. DTM fulfills this requirement and has a diagnostic yield comparable to central laboratory culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1480-1484
Number of pages5
JournalDiabetes care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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