OBJECTIVE : To compare the asynchronous assessment of video otoscopic still images to recordings by an audiologist and ear, nose and throat surgeon (ENT) for diagnostic reliability and agreement in identifying middle-ear disease.
DESIGN : A prospective cross-sectional study, asynchronously assessing video otoscopy, tympanometry and case history (Dx1). A subset was re-diagnosed (Dx2).
STUDY SAMPLE : Video otoscopy and data from 146 children recruited at two public community events; a sub-set of 47 were re-assessed.
RESULTS : The intra-rater diagnostic agreement between Dx1 and Dx2 was moderate (k = 0.445–0.552) for the ENT surgeon, and almost-perfect (k = 0.928) for the audiologist, in both procedures. The agreement between the two procedures was substantial (k = 0.624) and moderate (k = 0.416) for the ENT surgeon in Dx1 and Dx2 respectively, and almost-perfect for the audiologist (k = 0.854–0.978) in both rounds. In Dx1, the inter-rater agreement between the clinicians was substantial using still images (k = 0.672) and moderate using recordings (k = 0.593); in Dx2 it was moderate using both procedures (k = 0.477–0.488).
CONCLUSION : Both video otoscopic procedures, in addition to tympanometry and case history information, can be reliably used for asynchronous diagnosis of childhood middle-ear disease. An audiologist has a potential role in triaging children with middle-ear abnormalities and, therefore, improving access to ear-health services.