Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s main campus is located at 282 Washington Street in Hartford, Connecticut.

Research Collaboration with MIT Explores Non-Invasive Diagnosis of Middle Ear Diseases

A new partnership between Connecticut Children’s and MIT has fostered new approaches to the diagnosis of middle ear diseases. Tulio Valdez, MD, an otolaryngologist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center—along with MIT collaborators—is developing non-invasive ways to diagnose and treat ear infections in children.

Ear infections are most common in children between six months and three years old. Physicians typically diagnose an ear infection after examining the ears using a traditional otoscope, which provides limited access to the middle ear.

One of the first developments of the research partnership is a working prototype of a completely new type of otoscope, which gently retrieves chemical information from the middle ear without rupturing the delicate membrane. The analysis will reveal whether an infection is present at all, as similar symptoms can sometimes be caused by a simple case of fluid buildup. This knowledge will enable physicians to recommend the best course of treatment for an individual patient, and ultimately reduce the over-prescription of antibiotics.

Dr. Valdez and the MIT team have used this technology to non-invasively identify and analyze differentially expressed molecules from proliferative lesions in the middle ear, namely cholesteatoma and myringosclerosis. The results demonstrate the potential of this technique to provide new understanding of the etiology of these conditions.

The research was published in the August edition of Nature’s Scientific Reports section and was also featured in SPIE Newsroom.

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