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Original Article
May 2003

Endoscopic Photography: Digital or 35 mm?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC. The authors have no relevant financial interest in this article.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003;129(5):570-575. doi:10.1001/archotol.129.5.570

Objective  To compare off-the-shelf digital imaging equipment with a standard single lens reflex 35-mm endoscopic camera in a busy pediatric ears, nose, and throat setting.

Design  Two digital cameras with an endoscope adapter and a step-down ring were evaluated to obtain optimal settings for digital endoscopic photography. The equipment was used in various clinical and surgical settings to include otoscopy, sinonasal endoscopy, laryngoscopy, and bronchoscopy. The overall quality, color, brightness, and diagnostic quality of the endoscopic digital photographs were compared with those of the single-lens reflex 35-mm flash-generated photographs by experienced endoscopists. Cost analysis and ease of use were also compared.

Subjects  Initial digital endoscopic settings were formulated from cadaveric tests. These settings were then studied in multiple patients during endoscopy.

Results  Endoscopic digital photography resulted in high-quality images in all settings. Digital images were comparable to 35-mm images. The digital system was easier to use and less expensive than the 35-mm system.

Conclusions  We introduce a simple, inexpensive, and easily available endoscopic digital photography system. Digital photography offers numerous advantages over analog photography in a clinical practice. Digital imaging and archiving is more durable and easier to incorporate into patient records and clinical presentations. As the demand for high-quality digital imaging increases, easy-to-use inexpensive digital endoscopic photography will soon replace 35-mm camera technology.