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Problem Addressed

Studies have shown that about 8 million children in the U.S each year are diagnosed with otitis media, the medical term encompassing middle ear infections. A clear diagnostic sign of a middle ear infection is the buildup of fluid behind the ear drum. Reliably identifying the presence of middle ear fluid can be challenging in a pediatric patient. Commonly used methods such as pneumotoscopy are highly operator-dependent and can suffer both in sensitivity and specificity even in the hands of an experienced practitioner. The development of an otoscope sensitive to shortwave infrared light would enable better contrast of fluid in an image of the ear, potentially resulting in more reliable fluid identification during an ear examination.