A Guide to Paediatric Ear, Nose & Throat Care
by the Melbourne ENT Group
What does an ENT specialist do?
An ENT specialist is a surgeon specialising in the treatment of ear, nose and throat conditions. These include a wide range of surgical but also medical problems involving hearing, birth defects of these areas, speaking difficulties and sleeping problems.
Children are at especially high risk with these conditions, as these pathways are still developing into the teenage years, so any delays or deficits need to be treated quickly to prevent falling behind in development. Language and learning deficits are referred to ENT specialists as this allows the whole language pathway to be treated and tested, from hearing all the way to speaking.
ENT specialists provide a range of procedures from screening all the way to urgent and emergency. Read on to discover more about what exactly and ENT specialist can do for yourself and your child.
Why choose an ENT specialist for your child?
As parents, our children mean the world to us. It can be confronting and distressing to have a child diagnosed with a medical condition, or an uncertain diagnosis, and we want them to have the very best care available.
An ENT specialist has spent many years of study and specialised training to achieve her/his qualifications in the surgical fellowship reach the highest level of medical and surgical experience in the field. This kind of specialist is best prepared to diagnose, treat and support your child through the difficult journey of a hearing, nose or throat condition, offering the best outcomes possible.
Many forms of ENT surgery can be offered as day procedures or overnight stays, minimising distress to your child and workload on yourself. As well as this, a specialist ENT practice is able to offer a custom-tailored plan to best suit your child and yourself – from the choice of general or local anaesthetic to form of surgery giving the best outcomes possible.
Being a specialist in the field, your ENT doctor also will have better knowledge on any questions you may have about a condition or procedure, such as advantages and disadvantages unique to the situation of your child. Having performed these procedures over many years, your ENT specialist will also be able to give you the best advice on what to expect from a condition, which treatment option has the better outcomes and how any other medical conditions may interact.
- Snoring / sleep apnoea / sleep disordered breathing, where surgery is often first line treatment
- Ear, nose and throat infections, especially recurrent ones
- Hearing loss and language delay. ENT doctors specialise in both testing for hearing problems and correct these with surgery, tailored hearing aids and specialised devices
- Complex conditions affecting the airway, breathing, swallowing and voice
- Masses that affect the head and neck
- Congenital defects that affect the head, ears, nose and throat
Are ENT procedures easy?
Surgery and procedures performed by an ENT specialist are unique and can be complicated. Many are not performed at all by other doctors, with others not being performed commonly by general surgeons. ENT specialists, however, have performed many of these surgeries hundreds and thousands of times. These are just a few of the factors that make ENT procedures complex:
- Varying anatomy. Every person is different in their anatomy and unique situation, and children are no different. The surgeon will need to take into consideration the way the affected structures are positioned to determine an approach that will give the best possible results to your child.
- Increased infection risk. The ears, nose and throat are all places where the body opens up to the outside world. Whilst normally there are thick mucus-rich structures to protect these, surgery in these areas can open them up to risk of infection. An ENT specialist is specifically trained in procedures to minimise this risk of infection.
- Complexity of surgery. A wide variety of surgeries are offered for almost every ENT condition and choosing the right one can be difficult. The ENT specialist has performed these surgeries many times over, and is in the best position to help you and your family choose the type of surgery that will give the best possible outcomes.
- Small changes can have big impacts. The changes the surgeon will make will often be very small, especially when they are on the skin. But even small changes to structures such as the ear and nose can have a dramatic impact on the way they look and function. Since the margin for making mistakes is small, the surgeon needs to be extremely careful with every move they make.
- Surrounding structures in the head and neck. Many structures in the head and neck have nerves, lymph and blood vessels running nearby. The surgeon will need to examine the location of these nearby structures carefully, often using scans such as ultrasound to get the best picture.
Considering the complexity and potential risks involved in surgery, choosing the right ENT specialist with experience, recognition and a trusted name is important in empowering you to give your child the best possible outcomes.
At Melbourne ENT Group, we are a dynamic and innovative ENT specialist and sub-specialist practice applying world’s best evidence and state-of-the-art techniques in the care of our patients.
All our specialists are fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and have undergone further sub-specialist training both in Australia and Overseas. Both public and private hospital appointments are offered, maximising your access to best practice care.
Contact Melbourne ENT Group
If you are considering an ENT review for your child or looking for a team to see to their treatment, please feel free to get in contact with our friendly staff. We look forward to seeing you soon.