Store-and-forward telemedicine as effective as in-person evaluation for planning ear surgery: Study

The 2010 Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO of the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF), the largest meeting of ear, nose, and throat doctors in the world, will convene September 26-29, in Boston, MA. The official abstract supplement for the annual meeting is now available (http://otojournal.org) with the regular August 2010 issue of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. (See new research in the regular issue, below.)

Featuring more than 305 scientific research sessions, 479 posters, and several hundred instruction course hours for attendees, the annual meeting is a unique opportunity for journalists from around the world to cover breaking science and medical news. Reporters will have access to the latest research and clinical advances in the field of otolaryngology - head and neck surgery.

Otolaryngologists are specialty physicians and surgeons dedicated to diagnosing and treating disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. As many as 9,000 such specialists from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia attend to learn the latest research findings in patient care.

The scientific program and poster sessions will address medical disorders that are among the most common afflictions to all ages and both sexes. These include hearing loss, sleep disorders, allergies, ear infections, voice disorders, sinusitis, head and neck cancer, and pediatric ENT health issues. Register to cover the meeting at http://www.wynjade.com/aao10/.

August 2010 issue, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Pre-operative planning for ear surgery using store-and-forward telemedicine

According to new research in the August 2010 Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, significant experience has been gained in Alaska in the use of transmitted tympanic membrane (TM) images for managing remotely located patients with ear disease. Store-and-forward telemedicine, consisting of digitized TM images, clinical histories, and audiograms, is now used extensively for evaluation and follow-up of patients with otitis media, TM perforations, tympanostomy tubes, hearing loss, hearing aid medical clearance, facial trauma, and pathology of the oropharynx.

The otolaryngologists at Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) in Anchorage, AK, have gained confidence using store-and-forward telemedicine to diagnose and plan therapy for a wide range of otologic conditions, including those for which major reconstructive ear surgery is required. It has become common practice to schedule a patient for major ear surgery based solely on the information contained in the store-and-forward telemedicine case, with the initial in-person encounter occurring on the day prior to surgery during the pre-operative visit.

While some patients are able to drive to Anchorage for specialty care, most need to fly at a cost of $200 - $1200 per person. Telemedicine has the potential to reduce the time, risk, and cost associated with expensive travel. It is important to know if store-and-forward telemedicine leads to accurate surgical planning.

The study evaluates if telemedicine can accurately predict the surgical procedure indicated and estimate the operative time needed for the procedure, compared to the standard face-to-face evaluation. The research concludes that store-and-forward telemedicine is as effective as in-person evaluation for planning elective major ear surgery.

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