Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big otoscope test 2021. Here we present all the otoscopes we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best otoscope for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy an otoscope.




Summary

  • Otoscopes are used to diagnose ear diseases such as ear infections. They enable the examination of the external auditory canal and the eardrum.
  • Otoscopes are used in both human and veterinary medicine as well as in diving.
  • Otoscopes are also called ear mirrors. They are used especially by ENT doctors. There are also sets consisting of an otoscope and an opthalmoscope.

The Best Otoscope: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an otoscope

What is an otoscope?

An otoscope is a medical device used by ENT doctors and hearing aid acousticians to look at and examine the external auditory canal and the eardrum. This examination is called otoscopy.

Otoscopes consist of a handle, usually containing a battery or accumulator, a light source and an ear funnel. The ear funnel is inserted into the ear to examine the ear.

Otoscopes are suitable for use in human and veterinary medicine. However, a suitable otoscope should be chosen for each area according to need. (Image source: pixabay.com / WolfBlur)

Some otoscopes have a camera, which are so-called video otoscopes. This allows you to transfer the images or what you see directly as a picture to a screen or hard drive.

There are sometimes special otoscopes for human medicine and veterinary medicine. Nevertheless, some otoscopes that are suitable for humans are also suitable for animals such as dogs.

There are also toy otoscopes for children. However, this article is mainly about otoscopes for human medicine and a little about otoscopes for veterinary medicine.

Why do I need an otoscope?

You, or your doctor or audiologist, need an otoscope to examine someone else's ear canal and eardrum,

Otoscopes are used for optical diagnosis, e.g. of ear infections.

Otoscopes can sometimes be used privately, but care should be taken to use otoscopes correctly to prevent injury.

How does an otoscope work?

The ear funnel is inserted into the ear and through the illumination and a lens you can then look into the examined ear.

The doctor or hearing care professional then assesses what they see in the ear and can detect some conditions if they are present. An otoscopy allows the natural curvature of the ear canal to be straightened during the examination. This straightening allows your doctor to examine the inside of the ear and the eardrum in detail.

Otoscopies are usually free of complications and can detect inflammatory changes, foreign bodies or accumulations of earwax in the ear. Otoscopy can also detect signs of some parasites and sometimes treat or remove them directly.

You should not insert objects into your ears because of the risk of injury. It is better to have otoscopy performed by a doctor or hearing care professional to get a well-founded diagnosis and findings.

For whom is an otoscope suitable?

Doctors, especially ENT doctors, as well as hearing aid acousticians and medical students should use otoscopes for optical diagnostics of the external auditory canal and the eardrum as part of their studies.

Depending on the type, an otoscope can be used on humans, both adults and children, but also on animals. In veterinary medicine, otoscopes are used for optical diagnostics in animals. However, this article primarily deals with otoscopes and otoscopy in human medicine.

What does an otoscope cost?

There are inexpensive otoscopes starting at about 30,-€. More expensive otoscopes can cost over €1000.

Which otoscope is right for you depends on what you need it for. For simple examinations, cheaper otoscopes are usually sufficient. If you want extensive sets with digital imaging or image transmission, for example for an ENT practice, you may well have to invest a little more money.

Which otoscope is suitable for children?

Otoscopes for children should have a smaller attachment so that they fit into the smaller ear canals of children.

In addition to the functional aspects such as the size of the ear funnel, there are also otoscopes that are colourful and have a design that appeals to children.

What are the alternatives to an otoscope?

Instead of an otoscope, an ear speculum can be used in some cases. Ear specula were used especially in the 14th century, but were replaced by otoscopes.

Ear specula are usually funnel-shaped devices for examining the external auditory canal.

Today, the ear funnel attachments for otoscopes are often referred to as specula.

Decision: What types of otoscopes are there and which one is right for you?

What are the features of an otoscope for children and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

An otoscope for children usually has an attachment or funnel that is adapted to the size of children's ears. This means that the ear funnel is smaller than in otoscopes for adults.

In addition, otoscopes for children are often attractively designed. This is to improve the examination atmosphere for children.

Advantages
  • Also suitable for small ears
  • attractively designed
Disadvantages
  • possibly unsuitable for adults

What are the characteristics of an otoscope for adults and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Otoscopes for adults usually have a larger funnel. They are suitable for adults or larger ears, but not for very small ear canals.

They are often very simple in design, but serve their purpose.

Advantages
  • Suitable for adults
  • functional
Disadvantages
  • Often unsuitable for children
  • simple design

What are the characteristics of a pocket otoscope and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Pocket otoscopes are usually smaller and can therefore be easily taken along. They often have an automatic switch-off that is activated when you put them in your pocket.

You can buy inexpensive pocket photoscopes for around €30, but there are also more expensive models.

Advantages
  • inexpensive
  • often integrated automatic switch-off
Disadvantages
  • Partly fewer additional functions

What are the features of a video otoscope and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A video otoscope has an integrated CCD camera and a cold light source. The images you take with a videootoscope can be transferred directly to a screen or recorder.

The video otoscope provides a magnified view of the ear canal, which allows you or a doctor to make a more detailed assessment of the ear canal and the eardrum.

Advantages
  • Magnification possible on screen
  • transmission to screens
  • more precise diagnosis possible
Disadvantages
  • More expensive

What are the characteristics of an otoscope for veterinary medicine and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Otoscopes for use in veterinary medicine are made for the optical diagnosis of animals, for example dogs and cats. In principle, these otoscopes work in the same way as otoscopes for use in human medicine.

However, otoscopes for use in veterinary medicine are usually more robust and have, for example, scratch-resistant lenses. This makes sense and is sometimes necessary because animals can touch the devices with their paws and damage them.

Otoscopes are also used in veterinary medicine to remove parasites, to take tissue samples and to examine the ear canal and eardrum of the animal being examined. The advantage of otoscopy is that samples can be taken from the ear under visual control.

Otoscopy is often used to remove cerumen, otodectes spleen or other foreign bodies from dogs and cats.

Otoscopy is used to diagnose and treat otitis externa in dogs and cats, i.e. inflammation of the skin in the external auditory canal, but also tumours of the auditory canal, othaematoma, i.e. swelling in the ear caused by a haematoma, otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear) or myringitis, a painful inflammation of the eardrum.

In smaller pets, veterinarians use otoscopes to diagnose dental diseases.

Advantages
  • Suitable for animals
  • Suitable for diagnosis and treatment
  • Robust
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Long life
Disadvantages
  • Only partly suitable for humans

What distinguishes an otoscope set and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

An otoscope set usually contains not only an otoscope but also an opthalmoscope. It often comes in a sturdy hard case. In addition, some otoscope sets also contain helpful tips for use.

Otoscope sets are usually more expensive than a single otoscope. However, if you need both an otoscope and an ophthalmoscope, otoscope sets are also worthwhile in terms of their price-performance ratio.

Advantages
  • Several diagnostic instruments in one set
  • cheaper than many individual instruments
Disadvantages
  • Only worthwhile for specialists

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate otoscopes

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate otoscopes. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular otoscope is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Illumination
  • Price
  • Durability and robustness

Illumination

You should make sure that your otoscope has bright lighting. Some otoscopes are equipped with vacuum lamps for illumination.

If you are unsure which illumination is suitable for you, it is best to go to a specialist shop and ask if you can try out otoscopes there.

Price

The price range for otoscopes is very wide. Inexpensive devices can be purchased for as little as €30. Comprehensive sets cost over €1000.

If you only need an otoscope for your private household or for practising as a medical student, cheaper otoscopes are usually sufficient.

If you are an ENT doctor or hearing aid acoustician and work often and frequently with the otoscope and possibly also with an ophthalmoscope, you may want to buy a higher quality and more expensive otoscope or an otoscope set.

Durability and robustness

If you take care of your otoscope, it should last for several years. If you need an otoscope for veterinary medicine, you should make sure that it is particularly robust and has a scratch-resistant lens.

Dogs and cats, but also other animals, can move during the examination or damage the otoscope with their paws.

Especially if you want to perform dental examinations on small animals, your otoscope should be robust and scratch-resistant, because the otoscope can easily come into contact with the animals' teeth.

Facts worth knowing about otoscopes

How often do I have to change the tip of an otoscope?

If you have an otoscope with a disposable tip, you should use a different tip for each patient. Always change the tip after treating a patient so that it is ready for use again.

If you have an otoscope with a fixed metal ear funnel, you should clean and sterilise it thoroughly after each examination. You cannot change it in this case.

Can I clean and reuse the otoscope tip?

For hygienic reasons, you should only use disposable tips once and dispose of them properly after use. It is best to sterilise fixed ear funnels after each examination.

It is best to read the instructions for your otoscope to find out how best to clean it.

How do I store an otoscope?

Many otoscopes come with a storage bag, or sometimes a storage case in the case of an otoscope set. It is best to put your otoscope in this bag or case and store it on a shelf or in a cupboard.

How often do I need to change the battery?

You should change the battery or recharge the accumulator at the latest when the illumination deteriorates. If you use the otoscope frequently, you will need to change the battery or charge the battery more often.

If you use the otoscope less often, you will have to change the battery less often or charge the accumulator less often. However, it is recommended to remove the battery from the otoscope if it is not used for a longer period of time to prevent the battery acid in the otoscope from leaking.

Important terms around otoscopes

Admittedly, we have confronted you with some technical terms in the article. As a final conclusion and for repetition, we have tabulated and explained the most important terms once again:

Term Explanation Synonym
Otosko Medical device used to examine the external auditory canal and eardrum Ear mirror
Speculum Attachment/piece of otoscope inserted into the ear canal. Ear funnel
Otoscopy Term used to describe the examination of the external auditory canal and eardrum using an otoscope. -
Human medicine scientific discipline or branch of medicine dealing with the anatomy and physiology of man, and with diseases of man and their treatment -
Veterinary medicine scientific discipline or branch of medicine dealing with the anatomy and physiology of animals, and with diseases of animals and their treatment ear funnel

Image source: 123rf.com / Katarzyna Białasiewicz

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