Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery

Introduction:

Otolaryngology (pronounced oh / toe / lair / in / goll / oh / jee) is the oldest medical specialty in the United States. Otolaryngologists are physicians trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. They are commonly referred to as ENT doctors. Their special skills include diagnosing and managing diseases of the sinuses, larynx (voice box), oral cavity, and upper pharynx (mouth and throat), as well as structures of the neck and face. Otolaryngologists diagnose, treat, and manage specialist-specific disorders as well as many primary care problems in both children and adults.

Main Idea:

Otolaryngology or ENT (ear, nose, and throat) is the branch of medicine and surgery that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the head and neck.

Otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeons, spend up to 15 years training to treat conditions of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. Their special skills include diagnosing and managing diseases of the sinuses, larynx (voice box), oral cavity, and upper pharynx (mouth and throat), as well as structures of the neck and face. Otolaryngologists diagnose, treat, and manage specialist-specific disorders as well as many primary care problems in both children and adults.

Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery is a specialty devoted to the care of adult and pediatric patients with problems of the ear, nose, throat, and neck. These doctors are commonly known as ENT physicians.

There are several subspecialties wherein otolaryngologists devote their practices to one or two specific areas of Otolaryngology. These subspecialties include pediatric otolaryngology (children), allergy, sinus surgery, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, head and neck cancer surgery, laryngology (voice and swallowing), otology / neurotology, and skull base surgery.

Many doctors in these subspecialties have spent 1-3 extra years of special training in addition to the general otolaryngology training.

• Otology & neuro-otology:

An otologist / neurotologist is a board-certified otolaryngologist who provides medical and surgical care of patients, both adult and pediatric, with diseases that affect the ears, balance system, temporal bone, skull base, and related structures of the head and neck.

The neurotologist is knowledgeable of the basic sciences of hearing, balance, nerve function, infectious disease, and anatomy of head and neck. Their diagnostic, medical, and surgical skills include treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus, dizziness, infectious and inflammatory diseases of the ear, facial nerve disorders, congenital malformations of the ear, and tumors of the ear, hearing nerve, and skull base.

• Rhinology:

It is a subspecialty of ENT that deals with diseases of the nose and the sinuses including Rhinosinusitis (nose and sinus allergy), nasal obstruction, nasal polyps and nose bleeds. It also involves treating diseases close to the nose such as prominent eyes in thyroid disease, and watery eyes caused by blocked tear ducts in addition to exclamation of tumors in this area.

• Laryngology:

Laryngology is that branch of medicine which deals with disorders, diseases and injuries of the vocal apparatus, especially the larynx. Common conditions addressed by laryngologists include vocal fold nodules and cysts, laryngeal cancer, spasmodic dysphonia, laryngopharyngeal reflux, papillomas, and voice misuse / abuse / overuse syndromes.

Otolaryngologists treat the following:

• The Ears – The unique domain of otolaryngologists is the treatment of ear disorders. They are trained in both the medical and surgical treatment of hearing, ear infections, balance disorders, ear noise, nerve pain, and facial and cranial nerve disorders. Otolaryngologists also manages congenital (birth) disorders of the outer and inner ear.

• The Nose – Care of the nasal cavity and sinuses is one of the primary skills of otolaryngologists. Management of the nasal area includes allergies and sense of smell. Breathing through, and the appearance of, the nose are also part of otolaryngologists' expertise.

• The Throat – Communicating (speech and singing) and eating a meal all involve this vital area. Also specific to otolaryngologists is expertise in managing diseases of the larynx (voice box) and the upper aero-digestive tract or esophagus, including voice and swallowing disorders.

• The Head and Neck – In the head and neck area, otolaryngologists are trained to treat infectious diseases, both benign and malignant (cancerous) tumors, facial trauma, and deformities of the face. They perform both cosmetic plastic and reconstructive surgery.

ENT treatment will vary according to what type of problems or symptoms you are having. In the early stages of a disorder, surgical procedures may not be warranted, as in tonsillitis, for example. Early treatments will also depend on whether or not the disorder is related to an infection. If an infection is suspected, tests may be performed to determine whether the cause is bacterial or viral. Viral infections will not respond to antibiotics.

If surgical procedures are indicated, the doctor or nurse will give you instructions to follow before the surgery, including when you need to stop eating solid foods, when to stop drinking clear liquids and whether or not you will need to start or stop any medications before the surgery.

Some common surgical treatments:

• Facial Cosmetic Surgery

• Facial Reconstructive Surgery

• Neck Dissection (removal of lymph nodes in the neck)

• Parotidectomy

Thyroidectomy

Some common services of Otolaryngology:

• Division of Audiology: provides comprehensive diagnostic and rehabilitative services for both children and adults.

• Newborn Screening: testing of newborn infants.