What is Otolaryngology ?

Otolaryngology is a branch of medicine treating diseases, injuries, malformations, and functional disorders of the entire head and neck, except the central nervous system (CNS): the ears, the upper airways, the oral cavity, the throat, the larynx, the lower respiratory tract, and the esophagus.

What are the diseases treated by ENT?

Since many important organs and structures are located in the head and neck area, ENT specialists treat a large number of different diseases.

Neck :

  • Enlarged pharyngeal tonsils in children (“polyps”)
  • Acute and chronic laryngitis
  • Acute and chronic pharyngitis
  • laryngeal cancer
  • treatment of oral cancer
  • salivary gland cancer
  • salivary stones

Ear area :

  • Middle ear infection
  • Deafness
  • Sudden deafness
  • Hearing loss: Hearing loss in the inner ear and middle ear.
  • Vertigo: labyrinthitis, benign positional vertigo, Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis.

Nose area :

  • Sinusitis
  • Fracture of the cheekbone
  • Nosebleed
  • Distortion of the nasal septum
  • Sleep apnea syndrome

What diagnostic instruments are available to ear, nose, and throat specialists?

As in all medical fields, the examination of the otorhinolaryngologist begins with an anamnesis, during which the existing symptoms and medical history are discussed in detail, and the ear, nasal cavity, and oral cavity are then inspected as follows :

Atrial diagnosis

The ear canal and eardrum are then examined using an ear microscope to detect foreign bodies and inflammation, injuries, color changes, and scars that can be reliably seen on the eardrum.

Using a tuning fork, hearing loss due to damage to the cochlea or disturbance in sound conduction through the eardrum and ossicles can be distinguished by placing a tuning fork oscillating at various points on the head and asking the patient for the perceived volume of the tuning fork.

Thanks to sound audiometry, the patient’s hearing ability can be tested at different heights, which allows the patient to hear sounds in different frequencies via headphones; the volume of sounds of the same frequency is reduced in small steps until the patient can still perceive the sound, then sounds of a different frequency are tested until a complete diagram is obtained.

Newborns have a legal hearing screening procedure that tests the function of the inner ear by sending certain sounds into the infant’s ear that stimulate the cells of the inner ear to emit sounds (otoacoustic emissions).

Brainstem audiometry can be used to study the reactions in the brain that occur during the processing of auditory stimuli by attaching electrodes to the patient’s head, sending short clicking noises through headphones that generate a measurable electrical response in some areas of the brain (auditory cortex), and measuring electrical signals and evaluating them by computer so that the functionality of the auditory pathway and the auditory cortex can be assessed.

Diagnosis of the nose

With a nasal endoscopy (rhinoscopy), the ENT doctor can evaluate the inside of the nose, taking into account the anatomy of the nasal cavity and the nasal mucosa, using forceps with a funnel for frontoscopy, inserting the funnel into the nasal opening and using a small light source attached to it to examine the anterior nasal passage and the nasal cavity, and inserting a flexible tube with camera and light source at the end into the nose instead of forceps in the middle of the endoscopy.

To measure the airflow through the nose, rhinomanometry is performed using a device that measures the pressure difference between the nasal inlet and the nasopharynx, from where it can be seen if nasal breathing is obstructed.

Diagnosis of the neck and mouth

The floor of the mouth, the tongue, the outlets of the salivary glands, and the condition of the teeth and tonsils are examined. The ENT doctor also uses imaging methods for further diagnosis, particularly the ultrasound machine, since there is no radiation exposure and the soft tissues of the face and neck can be visualized well.

What modern operations are performed in ENT clinics?

Many options exist for treating hearing loss and deafness in modern medicine: in the case of hearing loss of the inner ear, that is, damage to the cochlea, but with the functioning of the auditory nerve and the auditory pathway, the cochlear implant (IC) takes over the function of the damaged cochlea, namely the conversion of sound into electrical signals and transmitted to the auditory nerve.

A modern example is the middle ear implant, which converts sound into vibrations and transmits them to the ossicles, allowing a better understanding of higher sounds than conventional hearing aids, which only amplify the sound.

A curvature of the nasal septum can be inherited or may have been caused, for example, by a fracture of the nasal bone, which prevents breathing through the nose after a specific curvature, pieces of bone or cartilage are removed during surgery under general anesthesia or the cartilage is straightened by specific incisions, in some cases parts of the bone or cartilage are cut out and reinserted outside the body after remodeling. The operation purpose is to create a central and straight nasal septum without affecting the surrounding structures.

Aesthetic operations in ear, nose and throat medicine

Some ENT doctors also offer cosmetic treatments for the head and neck, including minor treatments such as :

  • Wrinkle spray
  • Lip filling
  • Treatment of scars
  • Removal of moles and port

Among the most complex surgical procedures are:

  • Rhinoplasty
  • Hearing correction
  • Correction of the chin