Researchers at MIT have developed a device called a Short Wave Infrared Otoscope, which offers a better visual insight to the middle ear.
The need for the development of this sort of devices comes from the inability of current otoscopes to view exactly what’s going on beyond the general visual range.
This happens because most of the visible light is absorbed by the tissue and the rest is scattered, which makes it impossible to see what’s going on below the surface.
This hinders the doctors ability to conduct a thorough exam, which in turn leads to misdiagnoses of various sorts. These errors can cause a lot of problems for both patients and the doctors treating them.
This prompted the team at MIT to develop this new type of diagnostic device that would use Short-wave infrared (SWIR) to illuminate the area under scrutiny.
SWIR is actually a light in the 1 – 2 μm wavelength range, which is known to experience a lot less scattering. This light is then used to create images with the help of small and affordable sensors, giving doctors a change to examine the area properly.
The great thing about the device is the fact that it offers all these additional benefits, while still retaining the design of conventional otoscopes, thus shortening the learning curve for the doctors considerably.
Since it’s simply a diagnostic tool, it doesn’t require a lot of paperwork to bring to the market, and is already been tested on various patients with potential middle-ear infections with impressive results.