Nail the diagnosis: How doctors can tell if you’re healthy by your nails

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NEW YORK – We look at them, we tap them, we polish them, but we rarely if ever examine them – our fingertips and toes.

They can provide tell-tale signs of illness or serious disease by their discoloration or disfiguration.

Dark spots under the nails, for example, could be a sign of a melanoma, white or pale fingernails may be indicative of kidney or liver disorders. Gray nails could suggest arthritis problems. Brittle nails could be the result of a tumor of the thyroid gland.

A Manhattan radiologist is using state-of-the-art technology for early diagnosis of nail disorders.

Dr. Robert Bard says his ultrasound, Doppler Sonography, is more accurate than X-rays and is an excellent alternative to painful biopsies. His diagnosis has led to early treatment of many disorders.

Dr. Shari Lipner, a dermatologist who specializes in nails at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Hospital, says most nail disorders are treatable, but only if they are caught early.