The future of otology

J Laryngol Otol. 2019 Sep;133(9):747-758. doi: 10.1017/S0022215119001531. Epub 2019 Aug 29.


Background: The field of otology is increasingly at the forefront of innovation in science and medicine. The inner ear, one of the most challenging systems to study, has been rendered much more open to inquiry by recent developments in research methodology. Promising advances of potential clinical impact have occurred in recent years in biological fields such as auditory genetics, ototoxic chemoprevention and organ of Corti regeneration. The interface of the ear with digital technology to remediate hearing loss, or as a consumer device within an intelligent ecosystem of connected devices, is receiving enormous creative energy. Automation and artificial intelligence can enhance otological medical and surgical practice. Otology is poised to enter a new renaissance period, in which many previously untreatable ear diseases will yield to newly introduced therapies.

Objective: This paper speculates on the direction otology will take in the coming decades.

Conclusion: Making predictions about the future of otology is a risky endeavour. If the predictions are found wanting, it will likely be because of unforeseen revolutionary methods.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence; Future; Hearing technology; Otology; Regeneration; Robotics.