Specialist examination Otolaryngology

What is

Through the otolaryngology examination, one is able to diagnose, rule out, or check for diseases affecting the ear, nose, and/or throat; this specialist examination is performed by the doctor specializing in otolaryngology. Both patients with an already diagnosed condition and those who are prescribed the examination by the attending physician to ascertain the nature of symptoms (e.g., the presence of tinnitus, hearing loss, buzzing, sense of a closed ear, feeling of lurching, postural uncertainty, dizziness, persistent pain in the throat, sensation of a foreign body in the throat, persistent lowering of the voice, and a stuffy nose for no apparent reason) are examined.

How it takes place

In the first part of the examination, the patient’s medical history is taken: the specialist will then collect information on the patient’s medical history and lifestyle, regarding diet, smoking habit, alcohol consumption, level of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle , any underlying diseases, medication intake and type of work performed; in addition, at this stage, the doctor will view medical tests (blood chemistry or diagnostic imaging) provided directly by the patient.

In the second part of the examination, the specialist will perform all the investigations to identify the underlying causes of the symptoms felt by the patient. The examinations performed will be:

  • Palpation of the neck so as to rule out the presence of suspicious swellings;
  • Inspection of the oral cavity and pharynx, by laryngoscopy;
  • Inspection of the tympanic membrane and external ear canal with an instrument called an otoscope;
  • exploration of the inside of the nose (and some related structures such as the paranasal cavities and nasopharynx) by rhinoscopy.
    When necessary, the earwax plug found in the ear canal will be removed: this procedure is called ear washing and is performed with the aid of water, through the use of otologic tweezers or suction.

Should the physician deem it necessary, it is possible that, during the examination, the patient:

  • audiometric examination: takes only a few minutes and is completely painless; it is used to determine the âminimum hearing threshold,â that is, to ascertain any loss of hearing perception;
  • impedance testing: this is often linked to the audiometric examination, also takes only a few minutes and is completely painless: it consists of inserting a small probe into the patient’s ear and is particularly useful for assessing the elasticity of the eardrum and the chain of ossicles responsible for hearing function;
  • vestibular examination: lasts about 30 minutes; its goal is to check balance function.

An otolaryngological examination allows for the diagnosis of diseases affecting the ears, nose and/or throat, which anatomically are distinct but functionally related organs. Through this examination, the most appropriate therapy can also be determined. The examination allows monitoring the evolution of ear, nose and/or throat diseases (already diagnosed in the patient).

Exam Preparation

The examination can be performed without specific preparation; however, it is helpful for patients to bring documentation regarding previous examinations performed under their attending physician’s prescription and a reminder of current medications.