What is the Difference Between an ENT and an EENT Specialist?
Patients are sometimes confused as to which medical doctor to approach when they have eye, ear, nose or throat problems. There are just so many different types of doctors that make choice difficult to patients. Exclusively eye-confined problems could easily be referred to an opthalmologist or optometrist but when many other adjacent organs like the ear, nose or throat are involved, it may be time to see an ENT or an EENT.
Is there really a difference between an ENT and an EENT specialist? One is certain, however, that an EENT covers more organs of the upper body because EENT stands for Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat. ENT, on the other hand, stands for Ear, Nose and Throat.
But why is there a difference in the acronym used by doctors as their specialization. Is there a big difference with eye as the only organ not covered by an ENT specialist in his diagnosis and treatment of problems afflicting the head and neck areas?
Originally, those doctors who specialize in the head and neck areas are EENTs. Several years ago, however, as the eye is in itself a complicated organ, medical specialists specialize on its treatment. Opthalmology or the branch of medicine which deals with the diseases and surgery of the visual pathways, including the eye, hairs, and areas surrounding the eye, such as the lacrimal (located near the organ that produces tears) system and eyelids became a major specialization of medicine.
Thus, what remained of the once EENT acronym for doctors specializing on disorders or disease of the head and neck area is now widely known as ENT, leaving the eye specialization out to the opthalmologist.
A detailed description of the modern ENT is provided below.
What is an ENT specialist?
An ENT specialist is a medical doctor who is also called an otolaryngologist. An otolaryngologist is a medical specialist in the disorders of the ear or nose or throat. An ENT specialist is a medical doctor who prescribes medicine and performs surgical treatment of disorders or diseases of the ears, nose, throat and other structures of the head and neck.
The specific areas that the ENT looks into are the following head and neck organs:
- Ears – includes treatment of hearing disorders, ear infections, balance, facial or cranial nerve disorders, congenital (present at birth but not necessarily hereditary) ear defects, and cancer of the inner and outer ear.
- Nose and nasal passage sinuses (air-filled spaces within the bones of the skull and face which communicate with the nasal cavity) – management of disorders of the nasal cavity, sense of smell, breathing, allergy in sinus diseases, and also can make the nose appear better.
- Larynx or voice box – management of the diseases of the voice box including the esophagus as well as breathing and swallowing.
- Oral cavity – management of the diseases or disorders of the mouth or the mouth region such as jaw and dental trauma or injuries.
Aside from these organs which are mostly internal, an ENT specialist also treats diseases affecting the face such as deformities due to benign and malignant tumors which can be corrected by means of cosmetic or plastic surgery. The ENT can also work with neurosurgeons in treating skull base disorders.
An ENT specialist may also treat structural abnormalities near the eye so they can work closely with ophthalmologists. In this essence, the ENT is also an EENT.
How are ENT specialists trained?
Just like other medical doctors, ENT specialists undergo a four-year pre-medical undergraduate course, medical school of four years and at least five years of specialization in the diagnosis and treatment of eye, ear, nose and throat disorders. Once the ENT candidate finishes his training, he needs to be certified by passing the Board of Otolaryngology.
Fellowship may be pursued by the ENT specialist for more intensive training in one of the seven subspecialty areas namely
- pediatric otolaryngology (confined to children),
- otology or neurotology (concerned with the ear and balance),
- facial plastic and reconstructive surgery,
- head and neck surgery,
- laryngology (focused on the throat), and
- rhinology (focused on the nose).
© Patrick A. Regoniel 29 January 2011 What is the difference between an ENT and an EENT?