ENT Physicians Treat Vast Array of Conditions

Courtesy Heritage Park Surgery Hospital

A 62-year-old woman who has never smoked has had a persistent cough for five years. A 48-year old man found a mass on the right side of his neck three weeks ago. An infant has recurring ear infections. A 35-year-old woman complains of hearing loss and right facial paralysis. A 14-year-old boy sustained a sinus fracture from a foul-tipped baseball. What do these five patients have in common? They are all under the care of an otolaryngologist, more commonly known as an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, otolaryngology (pronounced oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/jee) is the oldest medical specialty in the United States. Otolaryngologists are trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. Otolaryngologists are trained in both medical and surgical treatments and can offer the appropriate level of care for each patient when surgery is needed.

Seven Areas of Expertise

Within the medical specialty of otolaryngology, physicians have seven specific areas of expertise and training.

Allergy: Treats patients with hay fever, seasonal and perennial rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, laryngitis, sore throat, otitis media and dizziness. Treatment may include medication, immunotherapy (allergy shots) and/or avoidance of pollen, dust, mold, food and other substances a patient may be sensitive to.

Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Cosmetic, functional, and reconstructive surgical treatment of abnormalities of the face, neck and ear, such as a deviated septum, rhinoplasty (nose), face lift, cleft palate, drooping eyelids, hair loss and other deformities.

Head and Neck: Cancerous and benign tumors in the head and neck (nose/sinuses, mouth, throat, voice box and upper esophagus)

Laryngology: Disorders of the throat, including voice problems, sore throat, hoarseness, swallowing disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), infections and tumors.

Otology/Neurotology: Diseases of the ear, including injury, infection, benign tumors, hearing loss and nerve pathway disorders, which affect hearing and balance.

Rhinology: Disorders of the nose and sinuses, including nose bleed, stuffy nose, loss of smell, polyp and tumors.

Pediatric Otolaryngology: Diseases in children with special ENT problems, such as ear infection (otitis media), tonsil and adenoid infection, airway problems, asthma and allergy/sinus disease, and neck tumors, as well as head and neck birth defects and developmental delays.

Advanced and Innovative Treatment

For adult patients, nasal and sinus procedures are among the most common procedures performed by ENT physicians in Texas and Oklahoma, according to Hunter Richmond, MD, an otolaryngologist on the medical staff of Heritage Park Surgical Hospital, now part of Baylor Scott & White Health.

“We live in what sometimes feels like the allergy capital of the world,” he said. “When medication doesn’t clear up chronic or recurring sinus problems, we can offer a minimally invasive procedure called balloon sinuplasty. This procedure usually results in minimal bleeding and can often be performed on an outpatient basis.”

In the procedure, a balloon catheter is inserted into the inflamed sinus. The balloon is then inflated to expand the sinus opening. Saline is sprayed into the inflamed sinus, which remains open after the system is removed.

If a patient cannot be treated with balloon sinuplasty, otolaryngologists may perform image-guided sinus surgery. Image guidance is a 3D mapping system that combines CT scans of the patient’s anatomy with real-time information about the exact position of the surgical instruments. This allows surgeons to safely and more precisely navigate their instruments through complex sinus passages.

“These are very delicate surgeries,” Dr. Richmond said. “The brain, optic nerves and large blood vessels all lie just beyond the sinuses. The image guidance system is designed to enhance surgical outcomes and patient safety.”

Another treatment option for chronic sinusitis is the PROPEL® Sinus Implant. This dissolvable implant is inserted into the sinuses after sinus surgery and has a spring-like quality that props open the sinus passageway allowing for proper drainage. As the implant slowly dissolves, it releases controlled amounts of steroids directly to the sinus lining to promote quick healing.

Heritage Park Surgical Hospital, now part of Baylor Scott & White Health offers comprehensive otolaryngology diagnostic and surgical services. Available procedures include ear tubes for children with repeat ear infections, sinus surgeries for deviated septums, tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, as well as diagnostic laryngoscopy. The hospital has eight technologically advanced operating suites, including equipment for minimally invasive surgery and HD technology on all operating room monitors.

For more information or to schedule a consult with an ENT specialist on the medical staff, call 903-870-0999.