While there are various technologies for scanning an ear, the Lantos 3D Ear Scanning System is the only system that elevates the procedure itself, and its outcomes, through the use of a highly-engineered membrane.
The way the scanning process works is the membrane is attached to the scanner. The Scan User then places the membrane inside of the scannee's ear, and then the membrane inflates with solution inside of it which allows the membrane to take the shape of the ear. At that point, the camera of the scanner extends outward into the membrane in the scannee's ear. From that point on, the Scan User simply points the camera at the various surfaces of the membrane/ear that they want to scan. This process enables a very elegant solution to scanning the ear.
But the membrane is not only elegant. It is the workhorse of the entire system. This tiny piece of material enables most of the benefits of the Lantos system and certainly is the source of the vast majority of improvements over other ear scanning systems.
Firstly, the single-use membrane, made from a soft, stretchy thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) which is nontoxic, hypoallergenic and biocompatible, provides a controlled environment for data collection. This means that you don't have to worry about ear hair, skin oils, or wax getting in the way of the camera or affecting your data since they're outside of the membrane. You're also able to capture data that's further away without having to extend the camera very deeply into the canal because the inside surface of the membrane is reflective.
There are benefits for your patients as well, both during the procedure and after. While you're scanning your patient, the sensitive skin of the ear canal is cushioned by the membrane. Therefore, if the camera accidentally bumps them, the sensation will be dulled by the membrane material that acts a barrier to the skin. Additionally, the patient will end up with a better-fitting product because the inflated membrane enables us to capture the compliance of the ear canal. We should recall that everyone's ear canals have a different level of flexibility and "squishiness" to them.
The more flexible ear canals will need a more snugly-fitting product, but we won't know which ears are more compliant without executing the measurement with some sort of pressure applied to the ear, such as impression material or an inflated membrane. That's why we say that the inflated membrane in the ear serves as a proxy for the final product, enabling you to capture the shape of the ear with something in it; this is more important for producing great fitting in-ear products than capturing the shape of the ear at rest.
Lastly, the significance of the single-use membrane cannot be overstated. For each new scan session, a new membrane fresh from its packaging will be loaded onto the scanner and then disposed of after scanning both ears. This, of course, is of utmost importance to providers in larger hospital settings and certain ENT and private practices, but we should also consider what's important to our patients. Hygiene and stopping the spread of germs has certainly come to the forefront recently, and it's something that many individuals will have on the radar from now on. When your patients see you load a fresh membrane onto the scanner, they'll recognize your commitment to best practices and their safety.
I hope this brief discussion of the membrane has piqued your interest! The membrane has a number of additional benefits—this is not an exhaustive list.
If you're interested in learning more, you can view a full session on the Lantos Membrane on AudiologyOnline, presented by me and my colleague, Lydia Gregoret, PhD, AuD: The Lantos Membrane: How it works and how to use it
You can also download this one-pager on the Lantos Membrane for additional information.
Also, as always, please don't hesitate to reach out to our team for any additional inquiries.