Studying the impact of antibiotic treatment on otitis media (OM), the leading cause of primary care office visits during childhood, is critical to develop appropriate treatment strategies. Tracking dynamic middle ear conditions during antibiotic treatment is not readily applicable in patients, due to the limited diagnostic techniques available to detect the smaller amount and variation of middle ear effusion (MEE) and middle ear bacterial biofilm, responsible for chronic and recurrent OM. To overcome these challenges, a handheld optical coherence tomography (OCT) system has been developed to monitor in vivo response of biofilms and MEEs in the OM-induced chinchilla model, the standard model for human OM. As a result, the formation of MEE as well as biofilm adherent to the tympanic membrane (TM) was longitudinally assessed as OM developed. Various types of MEEs and biofilms in the chinchilla model were identified, which showed comparable features as those in humans. Furthermore, the effect of antibiotics on the biofilm as well as the amount and type of MEEs was investigated with low-dose and high-dose treatment (ceftriaxone). The capability of OCT to non-invasively track and examine middle ear conditions is highly beneficial for therapeutic OM studies and will lead to improved management of OM in patients.
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