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    Microcomputer that will help save hearing

    Today, ear diseases are powerful factors affecting the quality of life of modern man. These illnesses are often neglected, even though lack of timely diagnosis can lead to inevitable consequences such as malignant tumors and hearing loss. Over 3.5 million diseases diagnosed for the first time have been registered in Russia alone over the past ten years. One of the main problems is the complicated process of diagnosis, which requires a lot of time and effort from both the patient and the medical staff.

    To make the process of diagnosing ear diseases less expensive and at the same time more rapid and accurate, Evgeny Shalugin, a 4th-year student at ETU “LETI”, works on his development. It will allow recording and analyzing noises in the human ear during the initial examination, reduce the risk of medical errors, and diagnose illnesses at an early stage.

    “At the initial checkup, the doctor usually performs two diagnostic examinations: otoscopy, an examination of the ear cavity to detect visible abnormalities, and auscultation, listening for sounds and noises with a phonendoscope. Most often, this leads to repeated appointments, observations over time, and additional costly examinations such as MRI, CT, and X-rays. It is no secret that tinnitus is a concomitant symptom of many diseases, and its analysis is extremely important for the diagnosis. So, the frequency and spectral characteristics of noise can significantly narrow down the list of possible diseases,” says Evgeny Shalugin, a 4th-year student at ETU “LETI.”

    The proposed solution will make it possible to modernize outdated methods of diagnosing diseases and conduct objective studies of noises in the auricular cavity. It is worth noting that the development will also enable scientists to conduct new kinds of research in otolaryngology.

    “The disadvantages of the modern diagnostic method are obvious. Firstly, it is extremely subjective, so there is a serious risk of medical errors, which can not only increase the cost of diagnostics but also lead to the deterioration of the patient’s health. Secondly, very often doctors diagnose diseases at late stages when abnormalities begin to show clearly. Finally, MRI and CT scans are expensive, require trained staff and a separate room, and emit radiation that contributes to the inability to dynamically monitor the patient’s condition,” explains the researcher.

    The autonomous system will be designed as a microcomputer with a power supply from a battery or network. The device will consist of a single-board computer with software for noise analysis, a touch screen, a sound card and interfaces for connecting peripheral devices, and external memory drives for convenient data transfer. A noise-capturing microphone will also be connected to the microcomputer.

    “The canal part of the earmold with the microphone will be inserted inside the ear canal. The principle is somewhat similar to a hearing aid. Further, the microphone will record noises, which will be received and processed by a computer with special software. In the end, all the results of noise registration and processing will be displayed on the doctor’s monitor, who will make further decisions based on the objective noise data,” Evgeny describes the principle of the device.

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