Now smartphones based technology can help diagnose ear infections

Now smartphones based technology can help diagnose ear infections

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Scientists have developed a new smartphone-based technology, called cloud-based software, to promptly and accurately diagnose your ear infection.

Researchers from the Pretoria University in South Africa and the University of Umea in Sweden have developed a method to simplify the diagnosis of ear infections called otitis media. Every year around half a billion children globally become prone to this infection.

The method is software-based, which automatically studies the images from a digital otoscope and allows extremely accurate diagnosis.

Claude Laurent, the researcher at Umea University, said that due to the scarcity of health personnel in many developing nations, ear infections are often either not diagnosed properly or misdiagnosed. This may result in hearing impairments and even to life-threatening situations. Laurent said that through this method, health personnel can diagnose middle ear infections with the same precision as pediatricians and general practitioners.
“Since the system is cloud-based, meaning that the images can be uploaded and automatically analyzed, it provides rapid access to accurate and low-cost diagnoses in developing countries,” he stated.

The software system includes a cloud-based study of images of the eardrum captured with the help of an otoscope, which is a commonly used tool for the medical examination of ears.

Pictures of eardrums, taken using a digital otoscope connected with a smartphone, were compared with images of a high-resolution in an archive and automatically categorized as per the predefined visual images connected with five diagnostic categories.

Study results proved that the automatically generated diagnoses based on pictures taken using a commercial video- otoscope had an accuracy of 80.6 per cent, whereas an accuracy of 78.7 percent was realized for pictures taken on-site involving a low-cost tailor-made video-otoscope. This great accuracy can be compared with the 64-80 percent of pediatricians and general practitioners with the help of traditional otoscopes for diagnosis.

According to Laurent, this method offers a great possibility for precise diagnosis of ear infections in such nations where such facilities are not available currently. Moreover, as the method is both cheap and easy to use, it allows quick and dependable treatment of a very common childhood illness, he mentioned.

The research was issued in the journal called EBioMedicine.