OCT Imaging Device Pinpoints Source of Chronic Ear Infections
Ear infections are the most common conditions that pediatricians treat. Studies have found that patients who suffer from chronic ear infections may have a film of bacteria or other microorganisms that builds up behind the eardrum; finding and monitoring these so-called biofilms are important for successfully identifying and treating this condition. However, middle-ear biofilms are difficult to diagnose with a standard otoscope. A new device created by University of Illinois researchers can help find and monitor these biofilms as never before — with the help of optical coherence tomography (OCT), which uses beams of light to collect high-resolution, three-dimensional tissue images.
The single scan is performed in a fraction of a second, and images a few millimeters deep behind the eardrum. This allows doctors to see not only the presence of a biofilm, but also how thick it is and its position against the eardrum.
The researchers hope to make their device — currently a handheld prototype – even more compact, easy to use, and low-cost. The researchers will also work to apply OCT imaging to other areas commonly examined by primary-care physicians, such as the eyes, mouth, nose, or skin.
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Also: Learn about more emerging applications for advanced OCT imaging.