Ears, nose, throat (ENT) surgery comprises many different types of surgical procedures and is one of the oldest surgical specialties. It is also one of the most elaborate fields of surgery, using advanced technology and encompassing a broad range of procedures including major reconstructive surgery.
Typically, ear surgery is used to correct defects causing hearing loss or impairment. Such procedures include tympanoplasty (reconstruction of the ear drum), stapedectomy (removal of all or part of a bone in the middle ear), and cochlear implants (implantation of a device to stimulate nerve ends within the ear to enable hearing). Myringotomy (insertion of ear tubes to drain fluid in persons with chronic ear infections) is another common procedure.
Care of the nasal cavity and sinuses is one of the primary skills of the ENT specialist. Common Surgical procedures of the nose can include sinus surgery, correction of a deviated septum (septoplasty) and relief of chronic nasal congestion. Advanced endoscopic surgery for sinus and nasal disorders can eliminate the need for external incisions and major surgery.
The ENT specialist is also called upon to manage diseases of the larynx (voice box) and the esophagus including disorders of the voice, respiration (breathing) and problems swallowing. Surgery of the throat includes removal of tonsils (tonsillectomy) or adenoids (adenoidectomy). Tonsils and adenoids are lymph tissue that help in the body’s defenses to fight infection. The tonsils and adenoids can get chronically infected, in which case surgical removal is usually required. Chronic inflammation of the adenoids can also cause repeated middle ear infections that can ultimately impair hearing.
Recovery for ENT surgery depends on the procedure and health of the patient. Because of the high possibilty of infections, cleansing and dressing changes of the wound as well as postoperative follow-up with the ENT surgeon is essential. Patients may need to stay in the hospital for eight to 10 hours for procedures such as tonsillectomy depending on the anesthesia, or they may be admitted for a few days for more complicated procedures.
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