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Ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists are doctors who focus on the management of diseases that affect the ear,nose and throat. They may also specialise in managing disorders of the head and neck. This article will focus on their training and schedule.

Ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists, formally known as otorhinolaryngologists, are specialists who diagnose and treat medical and surgical conditions that affect the ears, nose and throat. These doctors may be involved in surgically managing problems that affect the head, neck and base of the skull, and they may also be referred to as head and neck surgeons.

Training

ENT specialists need to first complete their undergraduate degrees, to become doctors, in order to further specialise in this discipline. This involves completing 5-6 years of training, depending on the country you live in, which is followed by internship training of 1-2 years before becoming eligible to specialise further.

If a post is available at an academic institution, and there are consultants available to train and mentor specialist candidates, a doctor can then apply for such post. If the application is successful, the candidate will be invited for an interview. If the interview is successful, then the job post will be made available to the candidate.

The doctors will then have to complete a 5 year residency training to become an ENT specialist. Following this residency training, some ENT specialists choose to specialise further by completing a sub-specialty fellowship. This training can take a further 1-2 years in duration. The fellowship disciplines that are available include the following, together with the medical conditions that these specialists will focus on:

Rhinology

Sinus diseases and the anterior skull base.

  • Acute or chronic sinusitis
  • Rhinitis
  • Severe or recurrent epistaxis
  • Allergies
  • Empty nose syndrome
  • Pituitary tumour

Head and neck oncologic surgery

  • Oral cancer
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth, pharynx and the larynx
  • Skin cancer of the head and neck
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Parathyroidectomy
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Skull base surgery
  • Free flap reconstruction
  • Parotid gland cancer

Laryngology

  • Hoarseness caused by laryngitis, Reinke's edema, vocal cord nodules and polyps
  • Tracheostomy
  • Spasmodic dysphonia
  • Cancer of the larynx

Otology and neurotology

  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Mastoiditis
  • Otitis media (inflammation or infection of the middle ear)
  • Otitis externa (inflammation or infection of the outer ear or ear canal)
  • Labyrinthitis/Vestibular neuronitis
  • BPPV – benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
  • Ear surgery
  • Perforated eardrum (a hole in the eardrum caused by trauma, infection or a loud noise)
  • Perilymphatic fistula
  • Ménière's disease/Endolymphatic hydrops
  • Acoustic neuroma

Paediatric otorhinolaryngology

  • Tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy
  • Myringotomy and tubes
  • Decannulation
  • Cricotracheal resection
  • Caustic ingestion
  • Laryngotracheal reconstruction
  • Laryngomalacia
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea – paediatric

Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery

Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery is a 1 year fellowship available to ENT specialists and plastic surgeons who wish to specialize in reconstructive and aesthetic surgery of the face, head and neck.

  • Rhinoplasty and septoplasty
  • Blepharoplasty
  • Browlift
  • Facelift (rhytidectomy)
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Complicated lacerations
  • Trauma to the face including frontal sinus, orbital, mandible and nasal bone fractures
  • Injectable cosmetic treatments
  • Otoplasty
  • Genioplasty
  • Skin cancers such as basal cell carcinomas
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