Research ArticleEAR INFECTION

Detecting middle ear fluid using smartphones

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Science Translational Medicine  15 May 2019:
Vol. 11, Issue 492, eaav1102
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aav1102

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Hearing an ear infection?

Ear infections are typically diagnosed using specialized equipment to assess eardrum mobility: The presence of fluid in the middle ear, indicative of likely ear infection, limits eardrum mobility. Chan et al. developed a smartphone system to detect middle ear fluid that uses the microphone and speaker of a phone to emit sound and analyze its reflection (echo) from the eardrum. The smartphone system outperformed a commercial acoustic reflectometry system in detecting middle ear fluid in 98 pediatric patient ears, and the system could be easily operated by patient parents without formal medical training. This proof-of-concept screening tool could help aid in the diagnosis of ear infections.