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Ear App

ipod app

A new pediatric medical device is coming to the aid of parents who suspect that their child has an ear infection. The Remotoscope, being developed by Georgia Tech and Emory, is a clip-on attachment and software app that turns an iPhone into an otoscope, enabling parents to receive a diagnosis of an ear infection from home. The device will allow parents to take a photo or video of the child's eardrum with the iPhone and send the image digitally to a doctor for diagnostic review.

The Remotoscope could save money for families and health care systems alike, according to Wilbur Lam, who is helping develop the device through the joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory. Ear infections affect 75% of children by age 6 and are the most common diagnosis for preschoolers. That results in more than 15 million office visits annually and thousands of prescriptions for antibiotics, which are sometimes unnecessary.

Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between ear infections caused by viruses and those caused by bacteria, with the latter requiring antibiotics. But being able to receive serial images of a child's ear over several days could allow doctors to wait and see whether antibiotics are warranted.

A clinical trial, partly funded by the FDA through the Atlanta Pediatric Device Consortium, is ongoing to see if the device can obtain images of the same diagnostic quality as those captured by an exam with a traditional otoscope.

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