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Q: how can I view inside my ear? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: how can I view inside my ear?
Category: Science > Instruments and Methods
Asked by: perplexed-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 11 Jan 2004 07:13 PST
Expires: 10 Feb 2004 07:13 PST
Question ID: 295269
I want to look inside my ear and view the state of the eardrum and any
build up of wax. I envisage an optical fibre cable with lens and light
which I rest in the outer passage of my ear and which produces a
picure on my PC monitor, or TV. Does any such piece of equipment
exist? It might be an accessory to a computer microscope?
Subject: Re: how can I view inside my ear?
Answered By: mathtalk-ga on 11 Jan 2004 10:09 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi, perplexed-ga:

Such units are commercially available, either as add-on devices that
works with your existing TV/monitor or bundled in (more expensive)
complete systems:

[Welch Allyn CompacVideo Otoscope Camera]

"For around $1000... Stand-alone system that's compatible with your
existing equipment!  The Compac Video Otoscope is a fiber optic system
with its own internal light soucre and video camera.  It's compatible
with monitors, TVs, VCRs, printers, and frame grabbers, so you
generate hard copies at the touch of a button."

"The basic 23100 model CompacVideo Otoscope System includes: Video
Otoscope Head, 10 Disposable (4mm) Specula, and Composite Video Cable
that can be connected to a TV, monitor, or computer video capture

[Economical Video Otoscope]

"...has both composite video and s-video outputs and is a fraction of
the cost of the typical  Camera and Illumination System with the
Otoscope adapter."

"Please contact Second Opinion for Quote Information."

By contrast the complete system solutions seem to run in the $5000 range:

[MedRx Digital Otoscope]

[MDS - Video Otoscope System]

These products are variously marketed as "human" or "veterinarian" but
at essentially the same prices.

regards, mathtalk-ga

Search Strategy:

[Froogle Keywords:  otoscope camera]

[Google Keywords:  "video otoscope" price]

Request for Answer Clarification by perplexed-ga on 11 Jan 2004 15:18 PST
hi mathtalk, thanks for your work. Those you list are rather pricy
(cheapest at $1000 !) professional kit for doctors (one only available
to medically approved purchasers) Is there anything like it for the
amateur or lay person. (or a used professional model?) ?

Clarification of Answer by mathtalk-ga on 11 Jan 2004 21:08 PST
Hi, perplexed-ga:

I agree these things are a little pricey and that the best value would
be to find one of these units for sale in good used condition.

I did see quite such instruments being sold on eBay and through
surplus/used resellers.  One needs to read carefully to see how
complete the equipment being offered is for your purpose.  I won't try
to post a lot of links here as the content on eBay is of course quite
dynamic, and the resellers tend to be cagey about price and
availability, asking you to contact them for information.

For example:

[ - Medical for Sale]
(scroll to middle of page)

You can try a search at eBay by going here:

Unfortunately eBay's search engine is not very specific, and this can
pull up items which don't contain both terms "video" and "otoscope".

The best new price I found on the Welch Allyn video otoscope head was
here, at $830:

[Welch Allyn CompacVideo Otoscope]
(item at top of page)

These prices should be viewed, I think, in the context of getting both
an instrument quality otoscope head (incl. light source) plus a
digital video camera sans recording media w approx. 400,000 pixel
resolution (and up).  My sense from browsing around a bit is that a
good used price for the low end resolution instruments might be $400,
but that used instruments with a megapixel resolution would push the
price back up, most likely above $1000.

For the sake of completeness, here's a Korean manufacturer with two
models in case you happen to come across a used/reconditioned version
of these:

[Sometech - Video Otoscope]

[Sometech - Dr. Camscope]

From the model numbers I believe the first of these to be the
"Economic" Video Otoscope referenced in my earlier answer.  I found a
Mexican distributor for these, but again without specific pricing

[MediRoyal S.A. de C.V.]

I'd be surprised if there were an FDA restriction on purchasing these
items as a non-physician.  This equipment should be used only for
viewing and not for performing medical procedures unless you are a
licensed physician or veterinarian.  Sites which distribute a variety
of medical items will often put a blanket disclaimer on their pages to
avoid potential disappointment when there are FDA restictions; such at
any rate seems to be eBay's policy.

Also in a medical or veterinary practice one has the expense of
continually replacing or disinfecting (preferably by autoclave) the
tips (specula) of these instruments, to avoid infectious

regards, mathtalk-ga

Clarification of Answer by mathtalk-ga on 11 Jan 2004 21:16 PST
Oops... looks like that low price is $870, not $830 for the Welch
Allyn video otoscope head.  Sorry for the confusion!

-- mathtalk
perplexed-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Many thanks mathtalk-ga, i think that wraps it up for me. Shame there
doesnt seem to be any cheap simple optic-fibre device that can be fed
into inaccessible spaces. Perhaps someone will spot this q and invent

Subject: Re: how can I view inside my ear?
From: mathtalk-ga on 12 Jan 2004 05:34 PST
Thanks, perplexed-ga:

It does seem a shame!  One tangent I came across was in a discussion
by hunters who apparently pack their own ammunition and wanted to peer
into the casings (as well as down their gun bores!).  One of them was
a doctor who said he had a video otoscope that worked, but only for a
limited distance into the bore.

The gist of the discussion was then, maybe we could build something
from Edmund Scientific!  So maybe, if we abandon the original goal of
hooking up to a TV/monitor, a purely optical solution could be cobbled
together from parts.

regards, mathtalk-ga
Subject: Re: how can I view inside my ear?
From: mathtalk-ga on 12 Jan 2004 20:07 PST
Hi, perplexed-ga:

I continued the search along the lines suggested in my earlier
Comment.  While there are tool-quality flexible fiber optic scopes (or
borescopes as they are sometimes called) in the $200 and up range, the
diameters are too large for insertion into the ear canal.  They would
allow for a visual inspection of one's own outer ear canal, I think,
but probably not the eardrum without some extra assistance or advanced

Here's an example of a fiberscope whose cable and lens have about 1/4"
diameter, cost about $230:

[Flexible Fiberscope - ProVision SLIP V618]

Still relatively pricey, if the result is only a slightly better
perspective than what you might be able to obtain with one fixed and
one handheld mirror.

best wishes, mathtalk-ga
Subject: Re: how can I view inside my ear?
From: glaznayamaz-ga on 12 Nov 2004 15:08 PST
There is some otoscopes over here too -

And video otoscope here

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