MetroHealth’s Department of Otolaryngology (ENT) provides comprehensive medical and surgical services and is a leader in care of patients with ear, nose, throat, and head and neck disorders.
Otolaryngology, pronounced "oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/jee" is the oldest medical specialty in the nation. Otolaryngologists are physicians who are trained in medically and surgically managing and treating patients experiencing disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. They are often referred to as ENT physicians.
Otolaryngologists are especially skilled at diagnosing and managing diseases of the ears, nose and sinuses, larynx (voice box), oral cavity, upper pharynx (mouth and throat), and structures of the neck and face. They diagnose, treat, and manage both specialty-specific disorders and primary care problems in both pediatric and adult patients. One of the primary qualities that differentiates otolaryngologists from many other types of physicians is that they are trained in both medicine and surgery.
Areas That Otolaryngologists Treat
The Ears—Hearing loss affects one in 10 people in North America . As ear disorders are usually their specialty, otolaryngologists are trained in both the medical and surgical treatment of hearing, ear infections, balance disorders, ear noise (tinnitus), nerve pain, and facial and cranial nerve disorders. Otolaryngologists also manage inner and outer ear birth disorders.
The Nose—Chronic sinusitis affects about 35 million people each year, making it one of the most common health complaints in the country. Caring for the nasal cavity and sinus area is one of the primary skills of otolaryngologists. Managing allergies and sense of smell also fall into this "nasal area" category.
The Throat—Verbal communication, e.g., speaking or singing, as well as eating a meal fall into this vital area. Other specific skills of otolaryngologists include expertise in managing diseases of the larynx (voice box) and the upper aero-digestive tract or esophagus, which is where voice and swallowing disorders can develop.
The Head and Neck—Being the center of the body, the head and neck area includes the important nerves that control sight, smell, hearing, and the face. In this area, otolaryngologists are trained to treat infectious diseases, both benign and malignant (cancerous) tumors, facial trauma, and face deformities. They perform both cosmetic plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery.
Training and Patient Care
Otolaryngologists can begin practicing after completing up to 15 years of college and post-graduate training. To qualify for certification by the American Board of Otolaryngology, an applicant must first graduate from college, medical school (usually four years), and complete at least five years of specialty training. The physician then must pass the American Board of Otolaryngology examination. In addition, some otolaryngologists go on to pursue a one- or two-year fellowship to acquire more extensive training in one of the following subspecialty areas:
- Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery
- Head and neck
- Laryngology (throat)
- Otology/Neurotology (ears, balance and tinnitus)
- Pediatric otolaryngology
- Rhinology (nose)