The miniature endoscope that could help millions recover their hearing

Tympany Medical-Solutions’ device is making noise in the ear, nose and throat sector


Hearing loss affects over 450 million people across the world.[1] For many patients this can be treated by surgical intervention but performing such operations can be invasive and complicated, sometimes carrying a large amount of risk.

A significant barrier to surgery is the equipment available. Large, cumbersome microscopes do not provide optimal assistance for surgeons operating on the intricate detail of the human ear.

But a new endoscope designed specifically to magnify the delicate parts of our ears is helping ear, nose and throat surgeons see more clearly.

Developing an ear endoscope that’s fit for purpose

Dr Liz McGloughlin, the co-founder of start-up Tympany Medical, and her team have developed OtoVU, a miniature endoscope that has been specifically designed for the ear.

For many patients, surgeries are often needed to repair the eardrum or remove benign tumours inside the ear. Using cutting-edge optic and sensor technologies, OtoVU gives surgeons a wide-angle view of the ear, so they can carry out important procedures more efficiently, use less-invasive techniques and deliver improved hearing outcomes. It will also enable many more surgeries to take place in outpatient settings.

While the device is revolutionary, using one is not. Surgeons require only a small amount of training to learn how to use the device, and they can simply apply their long-held surgical skills to carry out delicate procedures.

Network support propelling market launch

After developing the project through EIT Health partner programme BioInnovate Fellowship, a network that brings together healthcare experts, Dr McGloughlin and co-founder Rory O’Callaghan, an industrial and medical device designer, worked with surgeons in Ireland, England and the Mayo Clinic in the US to develop the endoscope.

Tympany Medical was awarded and injection of investment from EIT Health via its Headstart Fund and participated in the YES!Delft accelerator. Support to-date has been invaluable in driving the development of the device forward.

Now, OtoVU is undertaking the regulatory process. After completing this stage, the device is expected to be available to the market in 2022, and to begin changing the lives of people with hearing difficulties globally.

External partner
  • Tympany Medical
Dr. Elizabeth McGloughlin
| CEO | Tympany Medical
  1. World Health Organization, Deafness and hearing loss: (accessed February 2020).