Image-Processing Scheme to Detect Superficial Fungal Infections of the Skin

Comput Math Methods Med. 2015;2015:851014. doi: 10.1155/2015/851014. Epub 2015 Nov 16.


The incidence of superficial fungal infections is assumed to be 20 to 25% of the global human population. Fluorescence microscopy of extracted skin samples is frequently used for a swift assessment of infections. To support the dermatologist, an image-analysis scheme has been developed that evaluates digital microscopic images to detect fungal hyphae. The aim of the study was to increase diagnostic quality and to shorten the time-to-diagnosis. The analysis, consisting of preprocessing, segmentation, parameterization, and classification of identified structures, was performed on digital microscopic images. A test dataset of hyphae and false-positive objects was created to evaluate the algorithm. Additionally, the performance for real clinical images was investigated using 415 images. The results show that the sensitivity for hyphae is 94% and 89% for singular and clustered hyphae, respectively. The mean exclusion rate is 91% for the false-positive objects. The sensitivity for clinical images was 83% and the specificity was 79%. Although the performance is lower for the clinical images than for the test dataset, a reliable and fast diagnosis can be achieved since it is not crucial to detect every hypha to conclude that a sample consisting of several images is infected. The proposed analysis therefore enables a high diagnostic quality and a fast sample assessment to be achieved.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Computational Biology
  • Dermatomycoses / diagnosis*
  • Dermatomycoses / microbiology
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Humans
  • Hyphae / ultrastructure
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / statistics & numerical data