ENT stands for Ear Nose and Throat, and is also referred to as Oto(rhino)laryngology (ORL). In the UK, the ENT specialty also includes Head and Neck Surgery (HNS). It is a surgical specialty involving the diagnosis, medical and surgical management of diseases affecting these areas. If you are thinking of embarking on a surgical career, ENT is an exciting and challenging option. It is a dynamic and varied specialty with a wide range of skills to master, from routine to highly complex. ENT encompasses a broad range of diseases in patients of all ages, from a baby with airway obstruction, through to an elderly man with throat cancer. The skills needed to manage patients are therefore diverse.
Medical skills are required for accurate diagnosis and non-surgical management of conditions. Surgical skills range from microscopic surgery for middle ear conditions, through endoscopic surgery for nasal conditions to more traditional open surgery for head and neck cancer. Common procedures undertaken include tympanoplasty, mastoidectomy, endoscopic sinus surgery, thyroidectomy, rhinoplasty and salivary gland surgery. Tertiary referral centres undertake cochlear implantation, resection of head and neck cancers, skull base surgery and complex airway surgery.
Emergency work ranges from common conditions such as head and neck infections, epistaxis and removal of foreign bodies through to the urgent treatment of airway obstruction and penetrating neck trauma. Due to the diversity of the caseload, ENT surgeons work closely with a range of professionals including audiologists, speech and language therapists, oncologists, endocrinologists, dermatologists, neurosurgeons, maxillofacial surgeons and plastic surgeons.
ENT surgeons may subspecialise into a number of areas or work as generalists.