OtoNexus Medical Technologies is developing the world’s first device to help pediatricians instantly and accurately diagnose middle ear infections (Otitis Media) in children and adults. It can help determine both the presence of infection, and more importantly, the type of infection, which will allow pediatricians to confidently differentiate when and when not to prescribe antibiotics. This revolutionary device uses air-coupled ultrasound to provide valuable information about the contents of the middle ear that is not available with a traditional otoscope, or by any other method.

According to Mark Moehring, CTO and Co-founder of OtoNexus: “The otoscope has virtually not changed in a century – it is still basically a flashlight with a magnifying glass. At OtoNexus, we improved this basic technology to support better diagnosis and vastly improve patient care, while significantly reducing the cost of that care. Using a proprietary algorithm and unique ultrasound technology, we can determine the absence or presence of fluid in the middle ear, as well as characterize the effusion, which maps to four possible states: air (no infection); thin fluid (viral infection); viscous fluid (bacterial infection); or solid (glue ear).”

The hand-held device, which resembles a traditional otoscope in form, allows users to view and save images of the tympanic membrane alongside results of the ultrasound measurement. The ultrasound measurement is completed in under a second, concurrent with the doctor’s familiar visual inspection of the tympanic membrane.

OtoNexus partnered with Fraunhofer IPMS (Dresden, Germany), a global leader in MEMS and sensor development and manufacturing, to create a unique type of ultrasound transducer. Unlike traditional ultrasound transducers that require gel or water to couple to the body, this innovative transducer design is optimized to operate through air in the human external ear canal.

“Fraunhofer IPMS has a dedicated Ultrasonic Components group where over the years we have amassed the expertise to help realize OtoNexus’ game-changing device,” said Prof. Harald Schenk, director of Fraunhofer. He added that “we are very pleased to work with the OtoNexus team on their innovative device bringing our MEMS expertise to the table, which will contribute to their device improving many lives.”

The device, designed to address the needs of all clinicians – and specifically those of pediatricians – integrates seamlessly into their current workflow, requires no additional steps or training, reduces time to diagnosis and delivers vital information allowing them to accurately assess middle ear infections within seconds.

The device is under development and not yet available for commercial sale