Waxy Ear – June 8, 2023

Waxy Ear

June 8, 2023

A fussy 12-month-old is brought to the Emergency Department (ED) by his mother who is concerned her son has an ear infection. He has been evaluated in the past for similar complaints of pulling at his ear and recently completed a course of antibiotics. That evening he seemed more irritable and had been pulling at his right ear. His parent states he has “a lot of wax” and exams have been difficult. The child is afebrile and well-appearing.

The Wispr digital otoscope exam of his right ear is shown.

Does this child have an ear infection?

No. The child’s tympanic membrane (TM) is normal.

The child’s tympanic membrane (TM) is not bulging and has a normal appearance of bony landmarks and light reflexes. There are prominent blood vessels (vasculature) at the superior aspect of the TM. This is a normal finding in a crying child. Mom was correct in stating her child had “a lot of wax.” Compare this normal TM image with a case of acute otitis media (AOM). Without the Wispr digital otoscope, it would not have been possible to obtain this full view of the TM. The Wispr’s unique speculum geometry and camera location allow for a full view of the TM even in largely occluded canals.

See the complete video below to observe how the Wispr can use a small window in the wax to get a beautiful view of the normal TM.