Health Report 6/16/13

June 16th, 2013

Three out of four children will experience an ear infection by the time they are three, but soon diagnosing the common problem may not require a trip to the doctor's office.
Lou Baxter explains in today's Health Report.

You use it to talk, text, play games, but could your phone tell you if your child is sick? Fourteen-month-old Harper Barrett has an ear infection.

"She just got her second one."

It's one of the most common reasons kids see their pediatricians, but mom Megan says it's hard to know when an earache merits a trip to the doctor.

Megan Barrett, mother, says: "If you take her, and she doesn't have an ear infection, then, you know, it's a waste of time and money."

This may be the answer parents like Megan have been waiting for.

"What this is, is an iPhone Otoscope."

The instrument slides right onto the phone. It contains fiber optic cables that connect with the phone's light, along with a small magnifying glass.

Open the app, push a button, put it up to the ear, and record a video clip.

"That's her ear drum. Do you see your ear?"

This is what an infected ear looks like. The idea is parents take pictures and video at home, then send it to their doctor, who will tell them if they need to come in. In a clinical trial, researchers found images captured with the i-phone are at least as good as those captured with the standard instrument.

Kathryn Rappaport, medical student, Emory University School of Medicine, says: "We are looking to see if the images we can get from this device are of diagnostic quality."

Pediatrician Andi Shane says the new technology is more advanced.

Andi Shane, MD, Assistant Professor, Emory University School of Medicine, says: "This is what we call a conventional Otoscope. The only thing that this is providing is a light source."

She says the device could save time, money and maybe even reduce the use of antibiotics.

Megan would love to give it a try.

Megan Barrett, "Just to be able to check it out myself and be able to send it to the doctor, it would be amazing."

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