What is Otolaryngology?

ENT: Ear Nose and Throat

surgeon in mask image
Surgeon Ready For Surgery. Photo: © Getty Images

Definition: Otolaryngology is the surgical specialty that focuses on treatment of diseases and problems of the ears, nose and throat. Problems with the neck that are not spinal or dealing with the arteries and veins in the neck are also typically treated by an otolaryngologist.

Otolaryngology is difficult to pronounce and even harder to spell, for that reason, most people refer to the specialty as ENT, short for Ear Nose and Throat.

 You may also hear otolaryngologists referred to as ENTs. 

The Surgical Practice of Otolaryngology

The practice of an otolargyngologist may be highly specialized, treating only pediatric patients or only adults.  They may specialize in very specific procedures, such as only performing procedures that affect the voice box, or specializing in the treatment of ear problems.  

An otolaryngologist might perform tonsillectomy and adenoidectomies, place tubes in the ears to decrease infection or replace the ear drum. They may also perform procedures that are performed on the tongue, the salivary glands of the mouth, or the structures that make up the nose.  An ENT doesn't perform cosmetic procedures on the nose, but may participate in correcting defects such as a deviated septum or removing polyps from the nasal passages.

Not all of the ENT practice is surgical.  The ENT may also provide care to the individual who needs treatment on their ears, nose or throat who may not require surgery but does require the care of a specialist.


Sore Throat After Surgery

Pronunciation: oto·laryn·jol·ogy

Also Known As: Ear, nose and throat, ENT

Examples: After experiencing difficulty breathing through her nose for years, the patient finally decided to see an otolaryngology specialist to discuss surgical treatments.

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