Otolaryngologists utilize a variety of diagnostic techniques to assess middle ear health. Tympanometry, audiometry, and otoacoustic emissions examine the mobility of the tympanic membrane (eardrum) and ossicles using ear canal pressure and auditory tone delivery and detection. Laser Doppler vibrometry provides non-contact vibrational measurement, and acoustic reflectometry is used to assess middle ear effusion using sonar. These technologies and techniques have advanced the field beyond the use of the standard otoscope, a simple tissue magnifier, yet the need for direct visualization of middle ear disease for superior detection, assessment, and management remains.
In this study, we evaluated the use of portable optical coherence tomography (OCT) and pneumatic low-coherence interferometry (LCI) systems with handheld probe delivery to standard tympanometry, audiometry, otoacoustic emissions, laser Doppler vibrometry, and acoustic reflectometry. Comparison of these advanced optical imaging techniques and current diagnostics was conducted with a case study subject with a history of unilateral eardrum trauma. OCT and pneumatic LCI provide novel dynamic spatiotemporal structural data of the middle ear, such as the thickness of the eardrum and quantitative detection of underlying disease pathology, which could allow for more accurate diagnosis and more appropriate management than currently possible.
Ryan M. Nolan, Ryan L. Shelton, Guillermo L. Monroy, Darold R. Spillman, Michael A. Novak, and Stephen A. Boppart, "Comparison of advanced optical imaging techniques with current otolaryngology diagnostics for improved middle ear assessment (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9689, Photonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics XII, 96892J (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 14, 2016; Published: 27 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2213158.4828028254001.
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