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General Practice 2023

Otoscopy: what é, what it is for and how é done

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Otoscopy: what é, what it is for and how é done
Otoscopy: what é, what it is for and how é done

Otoscopy is an exam used to evaluate the structures of the ear, such as the ear canal and eardrum, in order to identify alterations, infections or injuries.

This examination can be performed on adults and children using a device called an otoscope, which has a magnifying glass and a light to help visualize the inside of the ear.

Otoscopy is usually performed when there are symptoms such as itching, redness, pain and discharge from the ear, or when there is a suspicion of rupture of the eardrum, for example.

What is it for

Otoscopy is an exam that allows you to visualize the internal structures of the ear, so it allows you to identify problems such as:

  • Ear malformations;
  • Presence of cysts;
  • Infections such as otitis media;
  • Eardrum perforation.

To confirm the diagnosis of some ear disease, the doctor may also indicate other tests that are complementary to otoscopy, such as pneumo-otoscopy, which is when a small rubber is attached to the otoscope to check the mobility of the eardrum, and audiometry, which assesses the mobility and pressure variations of the eardrum and ear canal.

Which doctor to consult

Otoscopy is usually performed by the otolaryngologist in the office, when there are symptoms that may indicate an alteration in the ear. However, this examination can also be performed by a general practitioner, for example.

How the exam is done

The otoscopy exam is used to examine the ear and is performed according to the following steps:

  1. Before the exam, the person should be in a sitting position, which is the most common way to perform the exam;
  2. First, the doctor evaluates the structure of the outer ear, noting if the person has pain when squeezing a specific place or if there is any injury or wound in this region;
  3. If the doctor observes the presence of a lot of wax in the ear, he will clean it, because the excess of wax interferes with the visualization of the inner part of the ear;
  4. Next, the doctor will move the ear up and if it is a child, pull the ear down, and insert the tip of the otoscope into the ear hole;
  5. The doctor will analyze the structures of the ear, looking at the images in the otoscope, which works like a magnifying glass;
  6. If secretions or liquids are observed, the doctor may take a collection to send to the laboratory;
  7. At the end of the exam, the doctor removes the otoscope and cleans the speculum, which is the tip of the otoscope that is inserted into the ear.

The doctor will do this process first in the ear without symptoms and then in the ear where the person complains of pain and itching, for example, so that if there is an infection it does not pass from one ear to the other.

This exam can also be indicated to identify a foreign object inside the ear and often, it may be necessary to perform otoscopy with the aid of video, which allows the visualization of the structures of the ear in a well-enlarged way through a monitor.

How to prepare

To perform an otoscopy in an adult, no type of preparation needs to be done, in a child it is necessary to keep her hugged with the mother, so that it is possible to hold her arms with one hand and the other hand to support her the child's head, so that he is calm and relaxed. This position prevents the child from moving and hurting the ear during the exam.

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