A complex and intriguing specialty
Otolaryngology─Head and Neck Surgery (OTO-HNS) basically deals with everything above the clavicles, with the exception of the eyes and brain/spine (usually!).
This is a most interesting and complex area, housing most of the major sensory organs—hearing, balance, smell, taste, sensation, vision. Most of the motor structures that let us interact as emotional beings, such as speech and facial expressions, are also in this region. All of these structures interface extensively with the brain and psychological constructs, which adds many layers of complexity.
All of these structures are subject to the same disorders seen elsewhere (such as inflammation, infection, cancer), with the added effects of loss of sensory or motor function and, in the case of the airway, loss of life. It is no wonder then that OTL-HNS attracts thoughtful surgeons who are fascinated by the beautiful anatomy, the complex interplay with other disciplines such as oncology (head and neck surgery), neurology and neurosurgery (otology and neurotology), ophthalmology (rhinology), endocrinology (thyroid and parathyroid surgery) and thoracics (laryngology). The mixture of medical and surgical treatment options are somewhat unique in surgery. OTL─HNS is also defined by its extensive interactions with other health professions, such as speech language pathology and audiology.
Academic OTL─HNS can be divided into many large subspecialties (for more information, visit our Patient Care page). Our major supspecialties are:
Head and Neck Surgery
Head and Neck Surgery is primarily concerned with benign and malignant neoplasms of the head and neck region, their surgical management and reconstruction. Surgery may include free and regional flaps from all areas of the body. It also includes thyroid surgery and endocrine surgery for parathyroid lesions.
Laryngology is concerned with disorders of the voice, swallowing and the airway, including both surgical and medical management.
Otology-Neurotology is concerned with disorders of hearing and balance, vertigo, and diseases of the lateral skull base such as vestibular schwannomas. We deal extensively with active and passive auditory implants, such as cochlear implants, bone anchored hearing devices and middle ear hearing implants.
Pediatric Otolaryngology deals with disorders of the head and neck affecting children. Many of these are surgical treatments for recurrent infections (such as tonsillitis or otitis media), management of complex syndromic children, reconstruction of congential defects, and airway issues and reconstruction.
Reconstructive and Facial Plastic Surgery
Reconstructive and Facial Plastic Surgery deals primarily with reconstruction of the head and neck after major resections or trauma. We are also concerned with aesthetic reconstruction of this region.
Rhinology deals with disorders of the nose and sinuses, and disorders of smell. This includes both surgical and medical management (including allergy) of these disorders, and central skull base approaches to lesions of the mid-face or central intracranial compartment.
General Otolaryngology includes a number of disciplines not easily classified within the categories above, including sleep and snoring disorders, facial pain, allergy, and less severe manifestations of most of the sub-disciplines listed above.