Understanding Earaches

Researchers have discovered that when a person suffers from chronic ear infections, the culprit may be a film of bacteria or other microorganisms that builds up behind the eardrum, not unlike dental plaque on unbrushed teeth. Antibiotics are not always effective against this so-called biofilm, so it helps doctors greatly to know whether it is present before prescribing a course of treatment. Whereas conventional scopes aren’t able to see beyond the surface of the eardrum, a new tool utilizing optical coherence tomography is shedding some light on the situation.

Additional general information:

  1. Engineers use reflected light to illuminate the mystery of ear infections

  2. Nowhere to hide: New device sees bacteria behind the eardrum

  3. Researchers develop handheld OCT device for primary care physician use

Additional technical information:

  1. Noninvasive in vivo optical detection of biofilm in the human middle ear




Researchers tested a prototype of a new OCT device
that can see biofilms behind the eardrum to better
diagnose and treat chronic ear infections.