Remote paediatric ear examination comparing video-otoscopy and still otoscopy clinician rated outcomes

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Objective: Telemedicine, particularly real time video-otoscopy in rural and remote Australia holds great potential in assessing and managing otology conditions. There is good evidence of store and forward images for assessment, however limited evidence exists for the use of real-time video-otoscopy. The objective of this study was to assess the validity of using real time video-otoscopy, compared to standard store and forward still image otoscopy, in a paediatric population. Method: Fifty-two paediatric tympanic membranes in 27 patients were examined and photographed by a telehealth facilitator with prior otoscope training. This occurred at two rural Western Australian health centre sites. These images were stored and forwarded to a tertiary paediatric hospital for otolaryngology department assessment on the day of real-time video-otoscopy consultation. During this consultation the same twenty-seven patients underwent real-time video-otoscopy assessment, which was recorded. Across six domains including, image quality, focus, light, cerumen amount, field of view and tympanic membrane landmarks, real-time video-otoscopy was compared against still image capture. The recording of each real-time video-otoscopy and still image tympanic membrane was assessed by two otology specialists for the ability to diagnose each as either normal or abnormal. An inter-rater reliability agreement was then calculated. Results: There was greater image adequacy across five of the six domains for real time video-otoscopy compared to standard store and forward otoscopy images. Substantial agreement in diagnosing each tympanic membrane as either normal or abnormal between each rater was evident. Conclusion: This study supports the use of real time video-otoscopy during telemedicine consultation. With greater image quality, focus, light, field of view and identification of tympanic membrane landmarks video-otoscopy compared to still images has broad clinical applications. This includes primary assessment of the tympanic membrane and post operative follow-up clinical settings. Video-otoscopy offers a promising new way to over-come barriers in delivering ear health care in rural populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111871
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Early online date23 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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