Otolaryngology Conditions & Treatments Glossary

The field of otolaryngology is full of many complicated words. That’s why we’ve included this glossary of commonly used terms. You may also learn more about conditions and specialized diagnosis and treatments available through Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin in these specific areas:

Acoustic neuroma: a non-cancerous, slow-growing tumor that occurs on the nerve that goes from the ear to the brain. Learn more about our Acoustic Neuroma Program.

Adenoidectomy: surgical removal of the adenoids

Apnea: brief pause in breathing that may or may not affect the body’s functioning

Audiogram: graph that shows the softest sounds one can hear at various frequencies. Learn more about audiograms and other tests for hearing concerns.

Cholesteatoma: a type of skin cyst located in the inner ear

Cochlear implant: an electronic device that can be surgically implanted to stimulate the acoustic nerve and allow deaf people to hear some sounds. Learn more about cochlear implants.

Epistaxis: nose bleed

Ethmoidectomy: surgical removal of all or part of the bone and tissue between the ethmoid sinuses

Gamma knife: the use of low-dose gamma radiation to treat head and neck tumors. Learn more about gamma knife treatments.

Hereditary telangiectasia syndrome (HHT): inherited condition marked by an abnormality in the blood vessels that causes patients to bleed easily, even spontaneously. Nosebleeds, often heavy, are the most common symptom of HHT. Learn more about Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia Program, the only program of its type in Wisconsin and one of only a few in the Midwest.

Hyperacusis: increased noise sensitivity and reduced tolerance for everyday sounds

Laryngectomy: surgical removal of all or part of the larynx, or voice box.

Laryngoscopy: procedure that involves the use of a flexible, lighted tube to see the larynx, or voice box. Learn more about laryngoscopy and other procedures for diagnosing throat conditions.

Mastoidectomy: surgical removal of all or part of the mastoid bone, which is located just behind the ear

Maxillary antrostomy: surgical procedure to enlarge the opening of the maxillary sinuses, which are located behind the cheeks, above the teeth and below the eyes

Mohs surgery: surgical removal of skin cancer, one layer at a time. Individual layers of tissue are removed and examined for evidence of cancer before removing any more tissue. Learn more about Mohs surgery expertise at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Otolaryngology: branch of medicine that deals with diseases of the ear, nose and throat

Ototoxicity: damage to hearing or balance function of the ear due to medication or chemicals. Learn more about ototoxicity and other ear-related conditions.

Paradoxical vocal cord dysfunction: abnormal movement of the vocal cord during breathing. Normally, the vocal cords move “open” when you breathe in. Paradoxical vocal cord dysfunction occurs when the vocal cords move together during inspiration, causing difficulty breathing.

Parotiodectomy: surgical removal of the parotid gland, a salivary gland near the ear

Pituitary adenoma: non-cancerous tumor located on the pituitary gland

Polypectomy: surgical removal of a polyp, or non-cancerous growth on a mucous membrane

Rhinology: branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the nose and sinuses

Rhinoplasty: plastic surgery on the nose

Septoplasty: surgical procedure to straighten or repair the nasal septum, the partition between the two nostrils

Sinusitis: an infection of the sinuses that can cause pain and pressure. Learn more about sinusitis and conditions of the nose and nasal passages. 

Sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea: disorder that involves pauses of breathing due sleep. The pauses may occur many times during the night and affect the body’s functioning. Learn more about sleep apnea and the specialized resources available through the Sleep Disorders Program.

Tinnitus: ringing in the ears. Learn more about tinnitus and other ear-related conditions.

Tonsillectomy: surgical removal of the tonsils

Tracheostomy: surgical procedure that creates an opening into the trachea, or windpipe. The word tracheostomy may also be used to refer to the opening itself.

Tympanoplasty: surgical repair of the eardrum and/or bones of the middle ear. Learn more about tympanoplasty and other treatments for ear conditions.

Vestibular: Having to do the with vestibule, a part of the ear that’s related to the sense of balance

Vocal folds: the vocal cords

Zenker’s diverticulum: a pouch located at a weak spot at the back of the throat, where the throat and esophagus join. May cause difficulties with swallowing. Learn more about Zenker’s diverticulum and its treatment.


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