Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology

Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology / 2011 / Article

Review | Open Access

Volume 22 |Article ID 698494 | https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/698494

Victor Leung, Mark Miller, "Detection of Scabies: A Systematic Review of Diagnostic Methods", Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, vol. 22, Article ID 698494, 4 pages, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/698494

Detection of Scabies: A Systematic Review of Diagnostic Methods

Abstract

This study systematically reviewed the accuracy and precision of history, physical examination and tests for diagnosing scabies. Using a structured search strategy, Medline and Embase databases were searched for English and French language articles that included a diagnosis of scabies. Studies comparing history, physical examination and/or any diagnostic tests with the reference standard of microscopic visualization of mites, eggs or fecal elements obtained from skin scrapings or biopsies were included for analysis. History and examination of pruritic dermatoses failed to accurately diagnose scabies infection. The accuracy of dermatoscopy, performed by a trained practitioner, was determined; however, the accuracy of other diagnostic tests could not be calculated from the data in the literature. In the face of such diagnostic inaccuracy, research to identify or develop accurate diagnostic tests for scabies infection is needed and justifiable.BACKGROUND: Accurate diagnosis of scabies infection is important for patient treatment and for public health control of scabies epidemics.OBJECTIVE: To systematically review the accuracy and precision of history, physical examination and tests for diagnosing scabies.METHODS: Using a structured search strategy, Medline and Embase databases were searched for English and French language articles that included a diagnosis of scabies. Studies comparing history, physical examination and/or any diagnostic tests with the reference standard of microscopic visualization of mites, eggs or fecal elements obtained from skin scrapings or biopsies were included for analysis. Data were extracted using standard criteria.RESULTS: History and examination of pruritic dermatoses failed to accurately diagnose scabies infection. Dermatoscopy by a trained practitioner has a positive likelihood ratio of 6.5 (95% CI 4.1 to 10.3) and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.1 (95% CI 0.06 to 0.2) for diagnosing scabies. The accuracy of other diagnostic tests could not be calculated from the data in the literature.CONCLUSIONS: In the face of such diagnostic inaccuracy, clinical judgment is still practical in diagnosing scabies. Two tests are used – the burrow ink test and handheld dermatoscopy. The burrow ink test is a simple, rapid, noninvasive test that can be used to screen a large number of patients. Handheld dermatoscopy is an accurate test, but requires special equipment and trained practitioners. Given the morbidity and costs of scabies infection, and that studies to date lack adequate internal and external validity, research to identify or develop accurate diagnostic tests for scabies infection is needed and justifiable.

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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