Otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat surgery, ENT)

Otorhinolaryngologists (also known as otolaryngologists or ear, nose and throat or ENT Surgeons) are surgical specialists who diagnose, evaluate and manage a wide range of diseases of the head and neck, including the ear, nose and throat regions.

This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.

Surgeon putting on scrubs

Nature of the work

ENT surgeons often treat conditions that affect the senses such as hearing and balance disorders or smell and taste problems. They also treat patients with conditions that affect their voice, breathing and swallowing as well as those with head and neck tumours including the skull base and interface with the brain.

ENT surgeons may treat people of all ages from newborn babies to elderly people. They see more children than most other surgeons, apart from paediatric surgeons. One of the attractions is that they treat a wide spectrum of ages and diseases.

Only about 15% of patients seen require surgery. This means that a high proportion of an ENT surgeon’s time is generally spent in outpatient clinics and managing conditions medically without the need for surgery. Their work effectively combines the role of physician and surgeon.

ENT surgeons treat a very wide range of conditions. These include:

Ear conditions include:

Nose conditions include:

Throat conditions include:

Head and neck conditions include:

Facial cosmetic surgery is also part of ENT surgery and includes:

“ENT is an extremely varied specialty and my role has given me the opportunity to work on the ward”.  Francesca Kum, Trainee in core surgical training, Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Read Francesca’s story

Common procedures

ENT surgeons use many different surgical procedures including:

ENT surgery has been at the forefront of the latest medical technologies and minimally invasive procedures are common. This has many benefits including less scarring and shorter recovery periods for patients.


Most ENT surgeons develop a sub-specialty and these include:

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Other roles that may interest you

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