Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery is a specialty devoted to the care of adult and pediatric patients with problems of the ear, nose, throat and neck. These doctors are commonly known as ENT physicians.

Training to become and otolaryngologist includes one year of general surgery and at least four years of otolaryngology training. These doctors have acquired the skills necessary to manage:

  • UMMC Hearing and Balance Center physicianSinusitis
  • Allergy
  • Mouth and throat cancer
  • Masses of the neck
  • Voice and swallowing problems
  • Trauma to the face and neck
  • Ear infections
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Other problems arising from the structures of the head and neck

After completing residency training, these doctors must take a written and oral examination to become board certified. The American Board of Otolaryngology has the role of assuring professional standards of training and knowledge.

Specialization in Otolaryngology

Within this broad specialty, there are several subspecialties where otolaryngologists devote their time to one or two specific areas of otolaryngology.

These subspecialties include:

  • Pediatric otolaryngology (children)
  • Allergy
  • Sinus surgery
  • Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Head and neck cancer surgery
  • Laryngology (voice and swallowing)
  • Otology/neurotology
  • Skull base surgery

Many doctors in these subspecialties spend 1-3 years of special training in addition to the general otolaryngology training. Often, research is included in the subspecialty training and these doctors become leaders in research related to the field of otolaryngology.


An otologist/neurotologist is a board-certified otolaryngologist who provides medical and surgical care of patients, both adult and pediatric, with diseases that affect the ears, balance system, temporal bone, skull base, and related structures of the head and neck.

The neurotologist knows the basic sciences of hearing, balance, nerve function, infectious disease, and anatomy of head and neck.

Their diagnostic, medical, and surgical skills include:

  • Treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Infectious and inflammatory diseases of the ear
  • Facial nerve disorders
  • Congenital malformations of the ear
  • Tumors of the ear, hearing nerve and skull base

As part of a team with University of Maryland Medical Center neurosurgeons, they manage diseases and disorders of the cranial nerves and skull base.