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To investigate and compare the performance of head mirrors and headlights during otolaryngological examination.
The illuminance and illumination field of each device were measured and compared. Visual identification and visual acuity were also measured, in 13 medical students and 10 otolaryngology specialists.
The illuminance (mean ± standard deviation) of the LumiView, Kimscope 1 W and Kimscope 3 W headlights and a standard head mirror were 352.3 ± 9, 92.3 ± 4.5, 438 ± 15.7 and 68.3 ± 1.2 lux, respectively. The illumination field of the head mirror (mean ± standard deviation) was 348 ± 29.8 grids, significantly greater than that of the Kimscope 3 W headlight (183 ± 9.2 grids) (p = 0.0017). The student group showed no statistically significant difference between visual identification with the best headlight and the head mirror (score means ± standard deviations: 56.2 ± 9 and 53.3 ± 14.1, respectively; p = 0.3). The expert group scored significantly higher for visual identification with head mirrors versus headlights (59.7 ± 3.3 vs 55.2 ± 5.8, respectively; p = 0.0035), but showed no difference for visual acuity.
Despite the advantages of headlight illumination, head mirrors provided better, shadow-free illumination. Despite no differences amongst students, head mirrors performed better than headlights in experienced hands.
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