NYMC Faculty Publications


Applications of Reflectance Confocal Microscopy in the Diagnosis of Fungal Infections: A Systematic Review

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Cutaneous and adnexal fungal infections are typically diagnosed with potassium hydroxide (KOH) skin scrapings, fungal cultures, and Periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) biopsy staining. All three current methods of fungal diagnosis require sample processing and turnover time which leads to a delay in diagnosis. Reflectance confocal microscopy (RCM) is a non-invasive, in vivo skin imaging technology that provides real-time dermatologic diagnoses. We present an updated systematic review of the applications of RCM in diagnosing fungal infections in an effort to explore the utility of RCM as an adjunct clinical tool in detecting cutaneous and adnexal fungi We systematically searched the MEDLINE (via PubMed) for studies published from January 2000 to October 2022 that described the utility of RCM in the setting of fungal infections. Of the 25 studies that met the inclusion criteria, 202 patients were included. The following information on the application of RCM in the setting of fungal infections was extracted from each study, if reported: study type, year published, number of patients included, diagnosis/diagnostic methods, and RCM description. Concordant within all included studies, fungal infections presented on RCM as bright, linear, branching, filamentous structures at the level of stratum corneum. A limitation of this review is that 11 of 25 studies were case reports (n = 1). Larger scale studies should be conducted to explore the utility of RCM in diagnosing fungal infections and to enrich the RCM descriptions of specific fungal conditions.