Training System for Ear Pathologies


Otolaryngology is the study and treatment of disorders of the ear, nose, and throat (ENT).

Otoscopy is the visual examination of the ear canal and eardrum using an instrument called an otoscope for the purpose of diagnosing disease. It is routinely performed by primary caregivers, audiologists and surgeons. At present, trainees are taught otoscopy using lectures and textbooks; experience with patients is limited to the particular cases that present during residency, usually a small fraction of all possible pathologies. Static images are used to demonstrate disease appearance. Furthermore, these images are of the entire eardrum, whereas in practice a physician can only visualize a small portion of the eardrum using an otoscope, and must mentally integrate a set of partial views in order to arrive at a diagnosis. These limitations lead to an unacceptably high level of misdiagnosis.

Studies show that most practitioners perform otoscopy incorrectly: for example 30% use otoscopes with an inadequate light source. A study examining 383 pediatric residents revealed a diagnostic accuracy of only 41% when performing otoscopy for middle ear infection (otitis media).

Description of the Invention:

ENT Simulation Technologies Inc., a spinoff company from The University of Western Ontario, has developed cutting-edge technology to improve otolaryngology training. ENT Simulation Technologies plans to transform medical training through its cloud based realistic and interactive simulations. Students and professionals can improve their skills in disease diagnosis in otolaryngology using virtual 3-dimensional anatomical models incorporating realistic graphics and instant feedback. In addition to the classroom, the online platform offers the opportunity to study from the comfort of office or home, with confidence. The company's first market-ready product, OtoTrain TM, is an otoscopy simulation and training system that has been shown to improve the accuracy of diagnosing ear pathologies by 44%.

OtoTrainTM is an integrated system that dynamically and interactively improves users' skills through experiential learning. Using 3D simulation software, the ear canal and eardrum are realistically modeled and accurate images of ear conditions are presented. The virtual anatomy can be modified to represent a variety of patients with different shaped ear canals and eardrums, something which cannot be done using existing physical simulators. In addition, system software tracks metrics to measure whether the user has performed a thorough examination, and provides immediate feedback if pre-set virtual limits simulating patient discomfort are exceeded. Students and professionals can practise to improve their knowledge of ear pathologies and otoscopy techniques; and their proficiency is evaluated objectively.

An extensive array of tutorials and high resolution images provide significant content for skill development. In addition, the OtoTrain TM integrated platform and software provide immediate feedback and guidance. These features are critical to the quality of the experience and its effectiveness for learning interactively.

With a comprehensive database of ear diseases implemented into our technology, students can learn to recognize a wide variety of conditions during their training. The software provides very realistic conditions that simulate the actual visual experience of performing otoscopy.

A substantial opportunity exists for this technology in the global market. With over 1,000 medical schools globally and an average annual student enrollment of 90 students, the medical student market totals 90,000 new medical students annually. Initially, OtoTrain TM is expected to sell for $90 to medical students, equating to a potential $4.5 million USD in revenues annually. Other markets include medical school site licences, and continuing education programs for physicians. There is extensive opportunity for expansion, as our technology can be applied to a number of additional medical procedures in otolaryngology.

Potential Advantages / Applications:

• The visual experience closely resembles actual procedures
• Users gain experience with a broad spectrum of conditions
• The virtual anatomy can be modified to represent a variety of patients
• The software allows for intelligent mentoring and standardized testing
• The software enables practice at any time and location since it is web-based.

Patent Information:


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