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How to use an Otoscope?

Are you a beginner in the veterinary field? Have you wondered how to use an otoscope?
Every day in the veterinary clinic we see dogs (and cats) that have some form of ear infection. Scratching, head tilting, painful ears, bad odor are some of the signs that there might be an issue with your dog’s ears. These are the reasons we perform otoscopy in dogs.
There can be many factors that can lead to ear problems such as genetic predispositions (narrow ear canal, floppy ears etc.), activities (fun day at the park in the tall grass), or other environmental factors (parasites).

Every ear exam starts with a visual examination of the outer parts of the dog’s ear. Then we proceed to examine the ear canal with an otoscope. The otoscope can be a manual tool that has a speculum at one end and a magnifying glass and a light on the other. The otoscope lets us see the inside of the dog’s ear. There is also a video otoscope, with a built-in camera at the end for easier examination and visualization of the ear’s insides.
Various tools can be added to an otoscope depending on each case. Aspiration needles, scrapers, brushes etc.

When performing an ear exam, if the ear canal is swollen and the otoscope can’t go in, the dog needs to get anti-inflammatory therapy first. Otherwise, the whole examination can be very painful and traumatic for the patient.
Many times, especially in late Summer, dogs come to their vets complaining of ear pain, head tilt and scratching. At this time of the year, the culprits of ear pain can be foxtails. These are small bits of grass that manage to get inside the dog’s ear and travel only one way – deep inside. When performing an otoscopy, the veterinarian gets a visual on the foxtail and is able to pull it out.

On the video below, you can see an example of how to use an otoscope and about the anatomy of the ear.

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