A Stinky Diagnosis: Sniffing Out Foot Infections

An electronic nose could help sniff out diabetic foot infectionsDid you know that, back in the day, a lot of bacterial infections were diagnosed by the way they smelled? Apparently (and I apologize if this is TMI) many bacterias have their own distinct smell—from the odor of feces to an aroma akin to that of grapes—that could allow for a quick diagnosis.

Building off of that idea, scientists developed a device called an electronic nose; using sensors that mimic receptors in our nose, the e-nose can help sniff out bacteria so that treatment can begin well before lab cultures are even processed—one of the most frequent uses of an e-nose is to diagnose tuberculosis.

Seeing how effective this tool can be, scientists are working on a new type of e-nose that can be used to help diagnose diabetic foot infections.  Why is this the next frontier for electronic sniffers?

Diabetic foot infections are notoriously hard to treat (which is one of the reasons I always emphasize the importance of preventative foot care); if left untreated, they can develop into ulcers that ultimately may result in a foot or leg amputation. 

By developing an electronic nose that targets foot infections, researchers are hoping to improve the lead time on bacterial diagnosis, meaning treatment can be administered faster and more effectively.

This device is still in the early stages of testing, but as a Houston podiatrist, I always stay on top of the latest developments in diabetic foot care. To find out more about keeping your feet safe from the potential side effects of this disease schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider today.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.