Inexpensive smartphone endoscope could ease ear, nose and throat consults

By Judy Mottl

A smartphone-connected mobile otorhinoendoscope could help doctors more easily share diagnostic insight on ear, throat and nose ailments, according to a new study.

The small study of six patients evaluated an adapter device that's hooked to the smartphone, uses a portable light source similar to an electric LED flashlight and would cost roughly $50. In trials of the device, image capture was not perfect but the diagnosis was correct each time. 

The report notes that today's otorhinoendoscope limits consultation as only one doctor can use it at a time. Current video-based endoscope systems, another telemedicine option, are cost prohibitive in some environments, such as at rural medical facilities that may not be able to afford them.

"The smartphone-based otorhinoendoscope is very easy to operate. Even parents could potentially record a clinical image without a doctor's help," the report states.

Smartphones are increasingly being tapped for medical and health diagnostic devices because they offer cost-savings as well as greater ability to provide services in remote locations and disaster emergency situations.

The iPhone 4S, for example, has been used for cost-effective endoscopy examinations. Smartphones are also being used as a diabetes glucose reading device that allows patients to avoid the traditional finger-pricking analysis method.

For more information:
- read the study