Iphone otoscope used to diagnose ear infections

FRESNO, Calif.

Fourteen-month-old Harper Barrett has an ear infection. It is one of the most common reasons kids see their pediatricians, but mom Megan Barrett says it is hard to know when an earache merits a trip to the doctor

'If you take her, and she doesn't have an ear infection, then, you know, it's a waste of time and money," said Barrett.

An iPhone otoscope may be the answer parents like Barrett may have been waiting for. The instrument slides right onto the phone. It contains fiber optic cables that connect with the phone's light, along with a small magnifying glass.

Open the app, push a button, put it up to the ear, and record a video clip.

The idea is parents take pictures and video at home, then send it to their doctor, who will tell them if they need to come in. In a clinical trial, researchers found images captured with the iPhone are at least as good as those captured with the standard instrument.

"We are looking to see if the images, we can get from this device are of diagnostic quality," said medical student Kathryn Rappaport.

Pediatrician Andi Shane says the new technology is more advanced.

" This is what we call a conventional otoscope. The only thing that this is providing is a light source." said professor of medicine Dr. Andi Shane.

She says the device could save time, money, and maybe even reduce the use of antibiotics.

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