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Building an otoscope screening prototype tool using deep learning

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Defination of Otoscope:

An otoscope is a tool which shines a beam of light to help visualize and examine the condition of the ear canal and eardrum. Examining the ear can reveal the cause of symptoms such as an earache, the ear feeling full, or hearing loss. During an ear exam, a tool called an otoscope is used to look at the outer ear canal and eardrum. An otoscope is a handheld tool with a light and a magnifying lens. It also has a funnel-shaped viewing piece with a narrow, pointed end called a speculum.

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Ear examination

Ear infection is an inflammation caused due to bacteria or viruses, severity of which can lead to diseases such as chronic otitis media and permanent hearing impairment/loss. Otoscopy is the primary method to diagnose these diseases. According to World Health Organization, approximately 1.1 billion of children are impaired because of the noise they are exposed to in a recreational setting. Thus, otoscope market growth is expected to propel with the increasing burden of ENT diseases. However, due to the stereotyping in the society it is expected to hinder the otoscope market growth.

Issues of Concern

Otoscopy is routinely performed during wellness check-ups and in evaluating specific ear complaints by both specialists, such as ear, nose, and throat physicians (ENTs) and primary care providers. Otoscopy plays a significant role in diagnosing several ear conditions and is a key step for the diagnosis of some conditions such as acute otitis media. As such, familiarity with otoscopy and the conditions for which otoscopic examination aids in diagnosis is important for health care providers in a variety of fields.

Clinical Significance:

Examination of the tympanic membrane and middle ear by otoscopic examination can help providers diagnose a wide variety of conditions, including acute otitis media, traumatic perforation of the tympanic membrane, and cholesteatoma. Delayed diagnosis of various pathologies of the ear can facilitate progression to more serious conditions, highlighting the importance of otoscopy. For example, untreated acute otitis media can advance to feared complications such as mastoiditis, brain abscesses, or meningitis

Before beginning the otoscopic examination, the provider can ask the patient to demonstrate the strength of their facial muscles by smiling, frowning, elevating the eyebrows, closing the eyes and keeping the eyes closed against resistance, and puffing out the cheeks. Successful completion of these movements demonstrates the integrity of cranial nerve VII, the facial nerve. The facial nerve travels through the middle ear and can be affected by ear pathologies such as acute otitis media.[8] Following the evaluation of the facial nerve, the provider can visually examine the health of the external ear, the pinna, noting signs such as wounds, scars, and inflammation.

Tympanometry: Risks, Procedure, Results, and More

Next, the provider can begin the otoscopic exam. There are often multiple speculum sizes for attachment to the otoscope. The provider should select the largest speculum that the patient’s external auditory canal can accommodate, as this will provide maximum lighting for optimal visualization of the ear anatomy. Providers may have their own preferences regarding how to grasp the otoscope. However, it is generally advisable to hold the otoscope like a pen in between the first and second fingers. The otoscope is usually held in the right hand when evaluating the patient’s right ear and the left hand when assessing the patient’s left ear. The provider should place their free fifth finger of the hand, holding the otoscope against the patient’s cheek to support and brace the hand during the examination.

With the hand that is not holding the otoscope, the provider should grasp and gently pull the patient’s pinna to help straighten the patient’s external auditory canal. This step will facilitate visualization of the tympanic membrane. In a child, the examiner should pull the pinna posteriorly and inferiorly. In an adult, the examiner should pull the pinna posteriorly and superiorly. Next, the provider can gently insert the speculum into the patient’s external auditory canal. The provider should inspect the health of the external auditory canal and evaluate factors such as the presence of inflammation, discharge, cerumen, and infection.

Nursing, Allied Health, and Interprofessional Team Interventions:

Otoscopy is a routine exam performed by many health practitioners for both screening purposes and evaluating specific ear complaints. Given the frequent use of otoscopes, they represent a potential source for the spread of infection. Research suggests that over 40% of otoscopes may become contaminated with potentially pathogenic microbial organisms such as pseudomonas, staphylococcus, aspergillus, and candida species. As such, otoscopes require regular cleaning. The cleaning and maintenance of equipment used in the otoscopic exam is an important task that can be performed by various members of the health care team. Otoscope heads can be disinfected by cleaning with a cloth dampened by aldehydes, surfactants, or alcohols. Clinicians can consult the otoscope manufacturer instructions for more specific cleaning protocols. Such a practice can contribute to decreasing nosocomial infections.

Trends

Pocket-sized Segment is Expected to Hold a Major Share in the Otoscope :

The advantages possessed by pocket-sized otoscope over the full-sized otoscope might be a driving factor for the market growth of this particular segment.

Pocket-sized otoscope is small in size, some of it are pen-sized which makes it easier to handle it. As compared to standard-sized otoscopes these are less bulky and lighter in weight. Some otoscope has camera attached to it or an interface to visualize the image on the computer that makes the otoscopy procedure more efficient by providing quality-images.

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Furthermore, the growing burden of diseases related to ENT is expected to be a key factor for pocket-sized otoscope market segment. According to World Health Organization, around 60% of the hearing loss in children is the one which can be prevented. Due to growing awareness in diagnosis of chronic otitis media, it is leading to increase in demand for otoscopy.

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conclusion

In conclusion, a structured approach to otoscopy has been shown to improve the diagnostic ability of trainess tested with photographs of ears with chronic otitis media. Such a teaching approach is likely to be equally beneficial to other otological conditions and to live otoscopy.


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Mark Ott

Mark is a graduate in sciences that are instrumental using an MBA in operations. He's also worked as a research partner for five decades, accompanying medical investigation. As a youth, he donated medical information to neighborhood college journals. His passion is researching and composing medical stories. He knows his stuff, and viewers love his sensible insights.

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