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Dermatology Research and Practice
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 764843, 8 pages
Clinical Study

The Sensitivity and Specificity of Potassium Hydroxide Smear and Fungal Culture Relative to Clinical Assessment in the Evaluation of Tinea Pedis: A Pooled Analysis

1Department of Dermatology, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA
2Taro Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. Hawthorne, NY 10532, USA
3Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 1Y6

Received 25 August 2009; Accepted 15 April 2010

Academic Editor: Craig G. Burkhart

Copyright © 2010 Jacob Oren Levitt et al. 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.


Background. There are relatively few studies published examining the sensitivity and specificity of potassium hydroxide (KOH) smear and fungal culture examination of tinea pedis. Objective. To evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of KOH smear and fungal culture for diagnosing tinea pedis. Methods. A pooled analysis of data from five similarly conducted bioequivalence trials for antifungal drugs was performed. Data from 460 patients enrolled in the vehicle arms of these studies with clinical diagnosis of tinea pedis supported by positive fungal culture were analyzed 6 weeks after initiation of the study to determine the sensitivity and specificity of KOH smear and fungal culture. Results. Using clinical assessment as the gold standard, the sensitivities for KOH smear and culture were 73.3% (95% CI: 66.3 to 79.5%) and 41.7% (34.6 to 49.1%), respectively. The respective specificities for culture and KOH smear were 77.7% (72.2 to 82.5%) and 42.5% (36.6 to 48.6%). Conclusion. KOH smear and fungal culture are complementary diagnostic tests for tinea pedis, with the former being the more sensitive test of the two, and the latter being more specific.