Molecular Nail and Wound Testing: The PCR Advantage

What is PCR Testing?

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the most innovative testing method used by some of the best Pathology laboratories to make an extremely fast diagnosis from a sample your doctor has sent.  Our pathology lab, Pathology Lab of Georgia, has gone through the necessary credentialing and strict requirements to become both CLIA certified and J accredited.   

PCR will rapidly make millions to billions of copies of a specific DNA sample and then analyze the DNA to determine what bacteria or fungus is in the specimen.  The specimens are obtained by a simple swab of a wound or a trimming of a nail.  This form of testing is far superior to older lab studies and produces the results twice as fast so our doctors can treat patients more accurately and in a quicker time period. This technology produces results in days, in comparison with other tests for fungal cultures, which can take several weeks for results.  Medications prescribed will be tailored to PCR results which can improve safety and treatment outcomes. 

For fungus testing just a small skin/nail sample is required.  For wound testing a swab that has been gently wiped over the infected region of the skin is necessary.  In both cases our lab will perform the DNA extraction and qPCR analysis of the listed pathogens commonly seen with immediate reporting.

Why Test Nail Fungus?

Foot fungus infections or Onychomycosis are estimated to occur in over a billion people each year.  It is the cause of roughly 50% of nail deformities and effects approximately 14-18% of adults.  It is important to identify the pathology of the nail deformation and determine a proper treatment plan.  Research is suggesting the rates of infection are increasing.  Fungi can infect almost any part of the body; however, these infections are most commonly observed in the skin and nails, mainly on the foot.  Anyone can acquire these infections, but the elderly and critically ill are often the most common suffers.  PCR testing is important because conditions of Psoriasis and Malignant Melanoma can mimic the appearance of Fungal infections.  Since some of the medications can have some side effects that effect organ function this allows us to be sure we are accurately treating the organisms. 

Why Test Wounds?

Accurate and prompt identification of wound pathogens is key to proper wound management for patients suffering from pathogenic infection.  Chronic wound infections often involve multiple organisms.  The presence of these organisms are found extensively in wounds which play a large role in delaying healing, increased complications, and poor outcomes.  Most skin wounds are colonized in both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and yeast in complex biofilms.  Our molecular testing is ideal for analysis of these infections.

PCR testing is only one of the advanced technologies we utilize here at Village Podiatry Centers to get our patients back to their normal routines as quickly as possible.  If you have a nail fungus, a chronic wound on your foot or ankle, or you would like more information on PCR testing call our offices today at 770-771-6991 or request in appointment on our website.

– Ira Kraus, DPM