ORLANDO – A novel smartphone otoscope attachment provides clear, transmittable images of the ear drum or tympanic membrane, and could revolutionize the approach to diagnosing and managing ear infections, according to Dr. Kathryn Rappaport.
In a prospective study involving 63 children who presented to an emergency department between May and December 2012 with upper respiratory tract symptoms, the technology was as effective as a conventional otoscope, and was widely accepted by parents, Dr. Rappaport of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.After receiving clinical care, each child in the study underwent bilateral otic videoscopy using both the smartphone otoscope (CellScope Oto) and a camera-fitted conventional otoscope. The procedures were performed in random order, said Dr. Rappaport, who was at Emory University in Atlanta when the study was conducted.
Of the children, who had a mean age of 2.9 years, 49 received a clinical diagnosis of acute otitis media by an ED practitioner. Based on independent scoring by four physicians who evaluated 31 CellScope Oto videos and 31 conventional otoscope videos from 26 subjects, there was no difference between the two technologies in either the diagnostic quality of the images or diagnosis confidence ratings.
Diagnosis and treatment decision making were similar with each device. Overall, the physician raters were in fair agreement regarding the clinical ED diagnosis of acute otitis media, while two of the raters had moderate to substantial agreement with the ED diagnosis and two had poor agreement with the ED diagnosis from images obtained via conventional otoscope, Dr. Rappaport said, noting that there was a significant correlation between antimicrobial use and image quality.
This indicated that higher-quality images were more likely to be associated with a definitive diagnosis, she said.
As for parent reactions to the use of the device, most (95%) responded favorably, stating that the CellScope Oto images improved their understanding of their child’s management. Also, 90% said they thought the technology would be easy to use, and they would feel comfortable using it remotely to transmit images to a provider.
The CellScope Oto has the potential to improve diagnosis and management, and to reduce costs associated with acute otitis media in children, Dr. Rappaport said.
The video images can provide a baseline, as well as ongoing documentation of a child’s condition. The video documentation could allow a child to be followed over a period of time – without the need for regular office visits – to help monitor for progression or resolution of middle ear effusion and to guide diagnosis and treatment decision making, she explained.
"Acute otitis media is the most common reason for antimicrobial prescriptions in children. In the future, we would like to study whether the ability to monitor for resolution of a patient’s middle ear effusion using digital imaging with the smartphone otoscope will lead to decreased antimicrobial prescriptions for acute otitis media in children," she said in an interview.
Dr. Rappaport reported having no relevant financial disclosures.
Comments: While many Indian doctors have been shy in adding emails / internet to their forte, almost everyone possesses a smartphone. Hence these technological innovations, once popularized can certainly impact the practice of the Indian pediatrician too !