What is an otoscopy?

Last update on Jun, 18, 2021

An otoscopy is a medical examination of the ear, or more precisely, of the external auditory canal, the middle ear and the eardrum. It is performed by an ear, nose or throat expert to diagnose a wide variety of ear diseases. In most cases, the hearing care professional performs an examination with an otoscope, a medical instrument for examining the ear, that consists of a light, a magnifying lens and a viewing piece with a narrow-pointed end called speculum.

How does an otoscope work?

With the help of an otoscope, also called auriscope, the doctor can get a clear eardrum picture and determine changes in the external ear canal. In order to do this, the doctor inserts the ear speculum into the ear and gets a detailed view of the eardrum. If ear wax (cerumen), pus or flakes of skin in the ear canal obstruct the view, the ENT doctor will be able to see and remove them, in order to gain a clear view to continue the examination and, if necessary, start the treatment.

When should an otoscopy be performed?

An otoscopy is usually done as a routine examination. It is used to identify diseases or injuries to the eardrum when the tympanic membrane changes its normal appearance. But even in patients who tend to build up a lot of wax in the ears and their hearing is impaired as a result, otoscopy can be used to regularly clean the ear canal. In summary, an otoscopy is performed in the following cases:

  • for diagnosis and monitoring of various ear diseases such as otitis media or externa, but also cholesteatoma or otosclerosis;
  • if there is suspicion of an inflammation of the ear canal, an injury to the eardrum or an effusion from the ear canal; 
  • for the regular ear wax removal;
  • for examination in case of deafness or hearing loss, tinnitus or sudden hearing loss.

Otoscopy risks

An otoscopy does not generally involve any risks or health hazards, as it is a pure routine examination. However, if an inflammation is found in the area of ​​the auricle, the ear canal or the eardrum, it can be uncomfortable or even painful for the patient when the ENT doctor guides the ear examination tool into the ear canal.

Other questions? Come and visit us in an Amplifon center

Book an appointment and come and visit us at one of our Amplifon centers, our hearing care professionals will be ready to answer any of your curiosities about the world of hearing and to show you our range of Amplifon hearing aids.

Book an appointment

News & Blog

Catch up on the latest news and stories on hearing health.
Learn more

Get support and advice

Book a free hearing test

Book now

Test your hearing online

Take the test

Find your nearest store

Find a store