H.20 Safe examination of the tonsils in the era of Covid19.
In the doctor’s office oropharyngeal examination is required for almost every sore throat, ear ache, sinus complaint, well adult exam or well child exam. The current method of oropharyngeal exam involves asking a patient to open their mouth and say “Ahh” while the examiner navigates around the tongue with or without the use of a tongue depressor. Saying “Ah” lifts the uvula & helps lower the tongue. The current approach releases viral particles into the air and puts the medical provider, accompanying guests and other staff in the medical facility at risk of contracting viruses such as Covid19. As a result many medical providers are performing halfhearted oropharyngeal exams, or worse, foregoing them entirely.
A tongue depressor and full personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gown, mask, gloves, goggles and face shield is the standard of care for oropharyngeal examination (see attached photo). The traditional tongue depressor does not prevent viral particle aerosolization and most outpatient practices do not have the proper negative pressure rooms to handle aerosolized viral particles. Additionally it’s impractical for busy outpatient providers to ‘gown’ and ‘ungown’ full PPE between each patient. Rubber dams have been used by dentists for decades – a transparent rubber dam does create a seal around the mouth but does not have a reliable way to move the tongue out of the way. Tytocare has created a digital camera that takes a photo of the throat remotely. Tytocare’s device is expensive, not reusable and does not provide a way to visualize behind the tongue.
The goal of this project is to create a device that provides a better and safer method of examining the posterior oropharynx. A safe oropharyngeal exam in the era of Covid19 will lead to better care for patients and will protect medical providers and staff from contracting illnesses from the workplace.
- Biology/Pre-Health Experience