Washington Patent of the Month – April 2023

OtoNexus Medical Technologies Inc.’ state-of-the-art advanced ultrasound otoscope analyzes the presence and type of effusion so that primary care pediatricians can instantly and accurately assess middle ear infections. This type of information has never been available before without an invasive procedure.

Otitis media, an inner ear infection, can be caused by either viral or bacterial infections, but distinguishing between the two is challenging with current diagnostic tools. This often leads to over-prescription of antibiotics for viral infections, contributing to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The company has recently patented their technology, using non-invasive optical coherence tomography (OCT) to diagnose these inner ear infections.

OtoNexus’ OCT device addresses this issue by providing a non-invasive method to identify the type of fluid adjacent to the tympanic membrane. By coupling a pressure excitation source to the tympanic membrane and illuminating it with a low-coherence optical source, the device can estimate the position of the tympanic membrane in response to the pressure excitation. This allows for the characterization of the tympanic membrane and adjacent fluid, including viscosity and biofilm characteristics.

The evaluation of the tympanic membrane response from the OCT detector data can subsequently be correlated to a particular viscosity or biofilm characteristic, providing an estimate of the likelihood of a treatable bacterial infection. This can lead to more effective treatment plans and reduced antibiotic resistance.

The device is non-invasive and provides a non-destructive method for diagnosing inner ear infections, making it a safer and more accessible option than the invasive myringotomy procedure. Additionally, it can be performed quickly and easily in a doctor’s office or clinic.

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