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Beam Me Up, Scotty: Handheld Scanner Can Detect Wound Infections


By: Tags: Foot and ankle clinic Los Angeles
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Moleculight Scanner

Anyone who’s a devotee of Star Trek probably is also familiar with the concept of the medical tricorder – a special handheld scanning device that, when passed over a person’s body, can accurately diagnose an array of ailments, without the need for blood work or extensive and protracted lab testing. As it turns out, thanks to a new product from Smith & Nephew, we may be one step closer to realizing that technology.

The U.K.-based medical device company recently launched a handheld digital scanner that’s designed to assess wounds and instantly determine if an infection is present, right in the office or at the bedside. For patients with diabetic foot ulcers and anyone else with chronic infections, the introduction of a scanner would mean less pain and faster treatment compared to traditional wound assessment techniques.

How It Works

The new scanner, which has been dubbed the MolecuLight, uses special digital technology and focused beams of UV light to look for harmful bacteria in a wound. To be effective, the scanner needs to be used in a darkened room. As the light passes over the wound, bacteria up to 1-1.5 mm under the skin’s surface glow or fluoresce. To date, clinical studies show the device can reliably detect 10 different types of bacteria, including Staphylocccus aureus, MRSA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. Studies show the device is also able to differentiate between P. aeruginosa and other pathogenic bacteria.

Compared to traditional methods like swabbing and lab testing, the MolecuLight holds its own. In clinical tests, the device was able to identify moderate-to-heavy levels of MRSA where standard-of-care testing failed. The device can detect bacteria in the wound as well as the surrounding area, enabling physicians to begin treatment earlier, and real-time imaging means treatment can be targeted specifically to the infected region. Plus, the MolecuLight is able to detect local infection in patients without symptoms, potentially making it an effective prevention tool.

Although the MolecuLight is currently available in Europe and Canada, it’s currently awaiting FDA approval and is not yet commercially available in the U.S.

Diagnosing Diabetic Foot Pain

More than 30 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the CDC, and about 70 percent of those people have some type of nerve damage or neuropathy, including diabetic foot pain, the most common type of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. As a top podiatry practice in the greater Los Angeles area, the Foot & Ankle Clinic helps patients get the most effective and most appropriate care for diabetic foot pain and diabetic foot ulcers, offering the most advanced treatment options available. Plus, Dr. Sigal frequently participates in clinical trials, which means patients may have access to treatments even before they become commercially available.

If you have diabetes, regular podiatry appointments play an important role in managing your disease and in preventing debilitating foot ulcers and serious infections – even if you don’t have nerve-related diabetes symptoms. To learn more about the treatment options available at the Foot & Ankle Clinic, give us a call at 213-265-0793 or request an appointment online today.


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