About Otolaryngology

Otolaryngology (oto-lary-n-go-logy) is the surgical specialty that deals with disorders and conditions of the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) as well as related areas of the head and neck. ENT problems can be relatively mild, such as swimmer's ear or tonsillitis, or they may be life-threatening, such as sleep apnea or cancer.

Symptoms and Diagnosing

Symptoms include:

  • Coughing/sneezing
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Ear pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Hoarseness/frequent throat clearing
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Nose bleeds
  • Runny nose
  • Sinus pressure
  • Skin lesions
  • Snoring
  • Sore throat
  • Tinnitus (noise in one or both ears)
  • Tonsil or adenoid inflammation or infection

Diagnosing an ENT condition includes:

  • Biopsy
  • CT scan
  • Endoscopy
  • Sinus culture
  • Sleep study
  • Visual exam

Treatment and Surgical Options

Your doctor will suggest the best plan of action based on the size, stage, and location of your ENT issue. If surgery is recommended, it may be open surgery, performed through one large incision, or minimally invasive surgery, performed through natural passageways.

Head and neck disorders are well-suited for minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical approaches because the nasal, ear, and throat passages offer a natural entryway for the thin instruments used in these procedures. Minimally invasive procedures result in less tissue damage, faster recovery, less pain, and less scarring than treatments performed through open incisions.

If you are facing an ENT condition that requires surgery, your doctor may recommend robotic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure enhanced by the precision of robotics. The Virginia Institute of Robotic Surgery offers the latest advances in robotic-assisted surgery, offering many benefits for our patients.

Advanced Technology can be used to treat:

  • Benign and malignant head and neck tumors
  • Bone-anchored titanium implants (BAHA device)
  • Cerebrospinal fluid leaks
  • Complex allergy problems
  • Cranial base lesions
  • Dermoid cysts
  • Ear-related disorders, including myringotomies
  • Eustachian tube and other middle ear problems
  • Facial plastic and cosmetic surgery
  • Head and neck reconstructive procedures
  • Laryngeal disorders, including cancer
  • Ménière's disease
  • Nasal and sinus disorders
  • Neonatal and congenital problems
  • Oral and maxillofacial conditions
  • Pediatric ENT problems
  • Removal of foreign bodies and wax impaction from ears
  • Snoring and sleep disorders
  • Thyroid and parathyroid disease
  • Voice disorders
  • Zenker's diverticulum

Benefits of Robotic Surgery

  • Avoidance of a tracheotomy (breathing tube)
  • Low rate of complications
  • Low blood loss
  • Minimization of the need for a feeding tube
  • Minimization of the need for chemoradiation therapy
  • No visible scarring or disfigurement
  • Precise removal of diseased tissue
  • Quicker return to normal speech and swallowing
  • Shorter hospital stay


Access support and education resources through the American Academy of Otolaryngology’s patient health information or ask your doctor or medical team for additional educational and support resources in your area.