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Explore this issue:April 2007
Otolaryngology-head and neck surgery is a broad specialty that covers the diagnosis and the medical and surgical management of conditions in patients who age from neonates through adults. This diversity is one of the main factors that attracts many medical students to our specialty. As knowledge is gained in each of these facets, areas of subspecialization are created based on anatomic area or age, the latter best exemplified by pediatric otolaryngology.
Despite the advances in many of these subspecialty areas, one group that has not received as much attention as perhaps they should is the elderly. It is not that most otolaryngologists don’t see older patients, but in large measure, the special conditions and treatment options haven’t been studied to the same degree as other age groups. Furthermore, geriatrics is an increasingly important area of medicine as a whole, and otolaryngology in particular if for no other reason than this age group is and will be one of the most rapidly growing segments of the population.
Interestingly, this area of otolaryngology was recognized for its importance by being the topic of a AAO Cherry Blossom Conference in the mid-1980s. The outcome of this conference included a book on the subject, Clinical Geriatric Otolaryngology, edited by Drs. Goldstein, Kashima, and Lucente, published by Decker. To promote more study of geriatric otolaryngology conditions, the American Society of Geriatric Otolaryngology (ASGO) was established in the fall of 2006. The mission of ASGO is to promote the generation of knowledge to benefit the geriatric patient with disorders of the ears, nose, throat, head and neck. Membership is open to physicians of any specialty and members of allied health professions who are concerned with the care of the geriatric patient.
Since we all will age and many will become geriatric patients, this area of specialization should be of interest to all of us. Some of the disorders in this new specialty include hearing and balance problems, voice changes, dysphagia, rhinitis, head and neck cancer, and cosmetic concerns.
ASGO is not a society for old otolaryngologists-it is an organization that will attract otolaryngologists of all ages to improve the quality of life of our older citizens. The first meeting of ASGO will be held at 1:00 pm on April 25, 2007, immediately preceding COSM. Please go to www.geriatricotolaryngology.com for meeting and membership information.