Important Recommendations and Tips on How to Buy the Right Otoscope!

By Dr. David Taylor    |     Last Updated: 05 March, 2019

Looking for a perfect otoscope? In our last post on otoscopes, we shared the list of some of the best otoscopes and brands available in the market for various use cases. Here, we are going a step further and listing the most imperative tips and suggestions on buying the right one!

An otoscope is a medical device regularly used by audiologists, pediatrics, and general physicians in a clinical environment. While most of the otoscopes offer illuminated magnification of the tympanic membrane and canal of the ear, the level of quality and functionality delivered by one is related to the technology it is based on.

But it is your personal preference to pick a specific type and model of the otoscope. Just like you would shop for other things, the same principle applies to buy an otoscope. If you have the money then you can shop for an expensive or an otoscope, but make sure it performs accurately.

With a plethora of options available in the market, narrowing down the product search can be a complex task. You can even end up wasting your time researching different products but still not able to meet your personal quality or functional criteria.

However, we can make the task much easier for you as in this post we list some really important recommendations from experts that you ought to consider while picking an otoscope.

Video or Image Capturing

First, you must be clear on whether you wish to capture video or images on a bigger screen or not. For example, if you are picking an otoscope for home use then you might not need this functionality. But if you are purchasing it for clinical or hospital use then this is something that is a must.

With the video and image capture feature, it is possible to get objective documentation of the tympanic membrane and canal of the ears in real-time. This helps you to identify the problem fast so that proper clinical measures can be taken in the shortest time.

Further, the captured image or video is also useful for educational and consulting purposes. You can project the captured image on a bigger screen to exhibit a detailed view of the structure.

If you don’t need all such features then you must focus on picking full-size handle and head otoscope combinations. But if such features are necessary to you then search for video otoscopes.

Power Options

Otoscopes are either battery operated or hardwired. Battery operated otoscopes use rechargeable or alkaline batteries as their source of power while hardwired otoscopes access to power from an external source like cord. Considering this aspect will also help to narrow down your search. For example, there are only a few video otoscope models available that are battery operated.

Otoscopes with rechargeable batteries are quite expensive than those powered with an alkaline battery, as alkaline batteries involve a disposable source of the battery. The cost of an otoscope will vary a lot depending on the technology used for the rechargeable battery. The most common kinds of rechargeable batteries available are – Nickel Metal Hydride, Lithium Ion, and Nickel Cadmium.

Power or Capacity

Furthermore, it is essential to analyze the capacity or power of a battery when buying an otoscope. It is because this factor will tell how long your otoscope’s battery will last. For instance, otoscopes with Li-ion or NiMH batteries will last 40-50% longer before recharging it. Remember, a battery with enhanced capacity does not mean that the otoscope will become heavier.

Also, Li-ion batteries possess the slowest rate of discharge as compared to other kinds of batteries. The NiMH and NiCad batteries lose their 2-5% charge every day. However, Li-ion batteries will retain its charge for a much longer time period even if it remains idle.

Illumination or Light Source

An otoscope can have one of these light sources, LED, halogen, or xenon. The newer models rarely use incandescent bulbs. Different bulbs will vary across numerous parameters like color, illumination, and the way they deliver light to this device.

Led bulbs offer the highest illumination, while halogen bulbs deliver the least illumination level. Also, the halogen bulbs release more white bluish light whereas LED and Xenon lights deliver white and brighter light.

It is of utmost importance to check the bulb quality, color, and illumination level as it will create a great impact during the inspection. LED and xenon bulbs are highly supportive in precisely monitoring a monomeric tympanic membrane of the ear, however, whiter and brighter bulbs have a lower CRI or color rendering index that makes it difficult to identify subtle details of the ear.

Memory Effect

The memory effect of an otoscope refers to the ability of a rechargeable battery to remember the level of reserve capacity left right before recharging. If an otoscope has low memory effect then it will not last longer between shifting cycles.

Fiber Optic vs. Non-Fiber Optic

An otoscope directs light on the targeted area wither through non-fiber or fiber optic technology. The non-fiber optic technology places the bulb on the level of otoscope head so that the light is directed straight to head into the canal of the ear.

Contrastingly, a fiber optic technology directs the light from the head of the otoscope through a series of fiber optic cables positioned around the speculum attachment. This kind of technology releases light in a more directs and concentrated path. As a result, there is a very minute loss of intensity of light. This way, it is possible to view the tympanic membrane and auditory canal of the ear much clearly.

The cost of otoscopes with fiber optics is more than otoscopes with non-fiber optics.

On a Concluding Note

By considering the above recommendations and tips you can now easily narrow down your search for the best otoscope to a more manageable level. This way, you will be able to take more informed decisions to meet your individual preferences.

Though an otoscope incorporates more additional features, this post talks about the most essential ones.