Recently awarded IGT Network+ Proof of Concept funds will allow an early-career-researcher with expertise in optical coherence tomography (OCT), Sophie Caujolle from Professor Adrian Podoleanu’s research group at the University of Kent, to spend six months at the University of Nottingham collaborating with Raman spectroscopy specialists in Professor Ioan Notingher’s research group.

The aim of the collaboration is to develop a hand-held probe which combines two modalities, optical coherence tomography (OCT) and spatially-offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS), to help improve diagnosis and treatment of glue ear.

Glue ear is a condition where the middle part of the ear canal fills up with fluid. It is the most common cause leading to temporary hearing loss in children (affecting 10-30{294d338d8e47176c7a0dd94b026f5cb88e10db929d476c6e515e7fc0f33d74e2} of under-7s) and can also impair learning and development.

Conventional diagnosis is based on hearing tests combined with a doctor’s examination of the ear-drum’s appearance. Surgery under general anaesthesia is typically recommended as treatment.  However, in a significant number of cases, when the ear-drum is cut to drain the fluid, the condition is found to have resolved and the invasive surgical intervention was unnecessary.

The proposed SORS-OCT probe will help prevent inappropriate surgical intervention by allowing for non-invasive, real-time accurate diagnosis of glue ear.

Researchers aim to modify an OCT hand-held probe that has already been developed at the University of Kent, and to incorporate spatially-offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS). The benefit of this combined probe is that it will be capable of measuring both structural (OCT) and molecular (SORS) information, which will improve the accuracy of diagnosis.

(From left to right) Professor Ioan Notingher, Professor Adrian Podoleanu