An ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT, is not the only one who can benefit from possessing a diagnostic otoscope. With an otoscope in your safety equipment you can make an important impact on your family's health. If your loved one tends to develop auricle pain on a regular basis, having an auriscope in your medicine cabinet will help you to determine if a physician visit is required.What kind of otoscope should you buy?
If you're an actual ENT doctor, you will likely want to purchase a diagnostic otoscope kit with an ophthalmoscope and an insufflator for pneumatic otoscopy. If you're a parent trying to gauge the seriousness of a pre-verbal child's ear pain, then less expensive options are available to meet your unique needs. Here are some shopping features to consider:
- Optics - Look for a unit that uses halogen lighting and fiber-optic technology for unhindered diagnostic observation of the ear canal.
- Specula - You can buy ones with either disposable specula or reusable specula. If you don't mind sterilizing it yourself, the latter could be a better choice.
- Batteries - You can find this equipment in styles that use disposable batteries and styles that are rechargeable. In addition to your preference on type of battery, be aware that a pocket otoscope will need less battery power than a larger one carried in a case.
- Magnification - Standard magnification is 2.5x to 3x. Some models, like the Welch Allyn MacroView, have been developed to provide even easier viewing.
- Case - Decide if you can get by with a zippered leatherette shell case or would need the added protection of a hard case.
Instruments are available that are appropriate for examining pediatric ears, adult ears, and even your pet's ears. Brands specialize in providing products with varying sizes, accessories, and visualization methods. Different brands also carry multiple product lines, such as the following examples:
- Welch Allyn - This company has the PocketScope with a removable head to expose a diagnostic throat illuminator and the Pneumatic Otoscope with halogen lamp and rotating lens as well as otoscope/ophthalmoscope diagnostic sets. Their KleenSpec disposable specula are available in different sizes ranging from 2.75mm to 4.25mm.
- Dr. Mom - Their Slimline pocket otoscope was created by a physician and offers lighted ear curettes. The 3rd generation and 4th generation models have True View full-spectrum LED lighting.
- RA Bock - They have a fiber optic model with three sizes of reusable specula or an available adaptor to allow use of disposable specula.
- ENTO - They have a digital version with a computer-connected camera to easily observe the ear canal.
- Otoscope Physician Approved Ear Care Professional Home Medical Diagnostic - This is the SPECv3 Fiber Optic LED model.
Practice using the instrument on healthy auricles first in order to gain experience viewing normal colors, textures, and shapes. Then, when using it for diagnostics, you'll be able to notice when cerumen or fluid builds up in the auricle or when tissues become inflamed. Product details should include positioning descriptions and instructions.