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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. Training to become and otolaryngologist includes 1 year of general surgery and at least 4 years of otolaryngology training. These doctors have acquired the skills necessary to manage sinusitis, allergy, mouth and throat cancer, masses of the neck, voice and swallowing problems, trauma to the face and neck, ear infections, dizziness, hearing loss, and many other problems arising from the structures of the head and neck. After completing residency training, these doctors must take a written and oral examination to become board certified. The American Board of Otolaryngology has the role of assuring professional standards of training and knowledge.
Within this broad specialty, 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. Often, research is included in the subspecialty training and these doctors become leaders in research related to the field of otolaryngology.
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. As part of a team with neurosurgeons, they manage diseases and disorders of the cranial nerves and skull base.