Pneumatic otoscopy is the recommended diagnostic method for middle ear infections. Physicians use a pneumatic otoscope to assess the position of the eardrum (bulging or retraction) as well as the eardrum mobility while an insufflation bulb is squeezed to generate air pressure changes in a sealed ear canal. While pneumatic otoscopy provides increased sensitivity and specificity by detecting decreased eardrum mobility, there exist many challenges to correctly perform and interpret results. For example, the ear canal must be sealed using a specialized ear speculum to deliver sufficiently large pressure changes that can induce visible movements of an eardrum. To overcome this challenge, video motion magnification is proposed to amplify pneumatic-induced motions of the eardrum without sealing of the ear canal. Pneumatic otoscopy is performed on adult subjects using a smartphone camera with an otoscope attachment at 60 frames per second, with pressure inputs at 5 Hz. Phase-based Eulerian motion magnification is applied to magnify spatiotemporal dependent motions in the video. As a result, the motion magnification of unsealed pneumatic otoscopy reveals comparable eardrum motions as in standard pneumatic otoscopy with a sealed ear canal. Furthermore, the estimated motions (in pixels) are quantified to examine the spatial and the temporal variations of the eardrum motions. The motion magnification may avoid the need for sealing the ear canal as well as decrease patient discomfort in pneumatic otoscopy, improving the capability and the usability as a point-of-care diagnostic tool in primary care and otology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034004
JournalJPhys photonics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 15 2020


  • Eardrum mobility
  • Middle ear infection
  • Motion magnification
  • Pneumatic otoscopy
  • Video processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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