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Auckland DHB ENT - Otorhinolaryngology (ORL)

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Head and Neck Surgery

Head and Neck Surgery is a subspeciality of Otolaryngology that involves diagnosis and surgical treatment of benign and malignant conditions of structures in the face, head and neck excluding the brain, spine or neck muscles.

These conditions include: tumours and swellings of the thyroid and salivary glands; abnormal endocrine activity of the thyroid and parathyroid glands; congenital, inflammatory or malignant lumps in the neck.

Head and neck oncologic surgery involves managing:

  • Cancers of the tongue, palate, floor of mouth, upper and lower jaws, nasal cavity and sinuses and tumours of the throat and larynx.
  • Malignant skin tumours or melanomas that have spread to the parotid gland, neck lymph nodes or involve large areas of skin, muscle or bone.

The specialty also involves managing voice and swallowing problems.

Operating on these types of conditions often creates complex defects that require reconstruction using a wide range of techniques including Free Tissue Transfer. Patients frequently require further oncologic and supportive treatment following surgery and the specialty has strong links with Oncology, Dental, Speech Therapy and Nutritional Services.

Not all ENT surgeons and general surgeons are head and neck surgeons and this specialty requires training way beyond that of most basic surgical training programs. The occasional surgeon in this specialty has much higher complication rates than those who perform these procedures every week.

This page was last updated at 10:42AM on June 10, 2014. This information is reviewed and edited by Head and Neck Surgery.