Magazine article USA TODAY

A New Eye on the Middle Ear

Magazine article USA TODAY

A New Eye on the Middle Ear

Article excerpt

A newly developed device greatly could improve doctors' ability to diagnose ear infections accurately. That drastically could reduce the estimated 2,000,000 cases per year in the U.S. were such infections are diagnosed incorrectly and unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed. Such overprescriptions are considered a major cause of antibiotic resistance.

The device--its design still is being refined--ultimately is expected to look and function very much like existing otoscopes, which most doctors currently use to peer inside the ear to seek signs of infection. A conventional otoscope, however, utilizes visible light and only can see a few millimeters into the tissues of the ear. The new unit employs shortwave infrared light, which can penetrate much deeper.

The findings were reported in the journal PNAS by Moungi Bawendi, professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; doctoral student Jessica Carr; research scientist Oliver Bruns; and Tulio Valdez, pediatric otolaryngologist at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Hartford, and associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

The one clear diagnostic sign of an infection is a buildup of fluid behind the eardrum, Carr explains, but the view through a conventional otoscope cannot penetrate deeply enough into the tissues to reveal such buildups. More-expensive specialized equipment can offer the additional information needed for a firm diagnosis, but these tools usually only are available in the offices of specialists, who are not consulted in the vast majority of cases. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.