Video Otoscope Versus Handheld Otoscope – What’s The Difference for Removing Earwax?

06/15/2021 | Patient Resources

Carrie Landis quote and image - blog feature

Over the past 10 years, thousands of people have walked into our offices and shared that they’re experiencing challenges with ear wax.

  • Sometimes there’s a blockage.
  • Sometimes it’s impacted, and sometimes it just feels like there’s too much in their ears!

If you have experienced (or are currently experiencing) a build-up of earwax, then you’ll understand how frustrating this is, how it can severely impact your day-to-day life. You’ve probably read about all the crazy myths about removing ear wax yourself (most of which are incredibly dangerous).

For the people that make the smart decision and visit us, we have the fun job of looking into their ears, understanding the reason that they’re experiencing these challenges, and removing the earwax that is causing the problems.

Over the many years that we have done this, there have been many tools that have reached the market to help audiologists like us to more effectively remove earwax. As a clinic that continues to set the standards in Massachusetts, we have explored much of the technology available.

A key part of the process is looking into your ear to see exactly what is going on and understanding the steps required to remove the earwax causing the challenges.

There has traditionally been one way of doing this, and that’s through a handheld otoscope; this is the commonly-known device that your physician or audiologist will look into your ears through.

They allow us to see the outer ear canal and eardrum through a magnified lens and a light.


They do a great job, but they have two challenges.

#1 They only allow the specialist using the otoscope to see what is happening, which means that you (or the patient) don’t get to see and instead have to rely on the specialist to articulate what they’re seeing.

#2 The small screen that we look through on a handheld otoscope is tiny; it’s like looking through a telescope – it can be difficult to see everything clearly and fully diagnose the next steps effectively.

That’s why when Video Otoscopes were introduced, we instantly fell in love.

A video otoscope utilizes a small camera that goes into your ear, which then shows what’s happening inside your ear canal on a screen in front of you (the patient) and us (the specialist).

This means that we’re able to share what you’re seeing, explain and show you what may be causing the clogged-up feeling or identify where your build-up of earwax is.

It also showcases it on a big screen so that we’re able to more clearly identify the steps required to remove your earwax, rather than the small screen on an otoscope.

There was also a scientific study conducted in 2018 that run a comparison between a video otoscope and a handheld otoscope in adults living with HIV in South Africa.

The study was conducted by two ENT specialists on 87 adults, and they found that Middle ear pathology was observed in 8% of cases using the handheld otoscope versus 10.6% in the video otoscope, concluding that “the video otoscope may be more accurate in the identification of middle ear pathologies.”

If you or a loved one are experiencing challenges with earwax and need a team of professionals in Fall River or Dartmouth, then we’re here to help.

Utilizing the latest equipment and video otoscopes, our team can identify the causes of your blocked ears and professionally remove your earwax.

It’s simple, it’s pain-free, and like many of our patients, it will feel like a huge sense of relief as you realize all the sounds that you have been missing.

To schedule your appointment, then click here for full information, or call your local office by clicking here.

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Erin MacMullen

Since 2001, Erin MacMullen has provided patient care in the state of Massachusetts as a clinical and dispensing audiologist. Her B.A. in communication disorders came from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and she earned her master of science degree in audiology in 2001. She holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Following graduation, Erin has worked in several settings, including private practice, ENT (ear nose and throat) facilities, nursing homes, assisted living residences, and as a consultant for public school systems in the area. Her diverse experiences provide Erin with a special combination of skills that include the ability to diagnose and treat hearing impairments among a large range of individuals, from pediatric through geriatric populations.

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