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What Is a Neurotologist?

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  • Written By: Jillian O Keeffe
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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A neurotologist is a medical specialist within the field of otolaryngology, which relates to the ears, nose, and throat. As well as a medical degree and training in the field, further specialist training may be required for the title. Conditions a neurotologist treats include cancers of the head and neck, ear infections, and problems with nerves of the face.

In order to become an otolaryngologist, a student doctor must complete medical school and necessary hospital experience as a resident. After specializing in otolaryngology and passing any required certification examinations, he or she will then be an otolaryngologist, which is also known as an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. Neurotology is a further specialization, incorporating surgery, which requires even more training and experience. This can take a year or more to achieve. Some countries such as the United States recognize this subspecialty as a specialty in its own right and allow the practitioner to call himself or herself a neurotologist.

As a more highly trained doctor in the field of otolaryngology than an average otolaryngologist, a neurotologist is capable of dealing with complex cases in the ENT sphere. He or she needs to have a grasp of how the ears work in hearing and in balance. Knowledge of the anatomy of the entire head and neck is also essential. As a neurotologist treats both adults and children, he or she needs to be informed about both pediatric and adult anatomies.

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The nervous system, as it relates to the head and neck, is also important. Modes of disease causation such as infections and cancers are also relevant. Finally, a neurotologist has to have surgical skills to allow him or her to treat the patient effectively.

Conditions that cause problems with hearing, such as tinnitus or hearing loss, are suitable for a neurotologist, especially as the nerves of the ear may be involved. People with deformations of the ear may also benefit from a consultation and treatment from the doctor. An infection of the ear, as well as complications from infection, are conditions the doctor can attempt to treat.

Cancers of the ear, the rest of the head, or neck form part of the neurotologist's repertoire of skills. Problems with facial nerves are also part of the specialty. He or she can also work in conjunction with a neurosurgeon if the patient's nerves in the head are diseased and surgery is required. Research is also an option for some doctors, and the field of hearing implants is another area the doctor may be skilled at.

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