Terminology used by ENT Doctors

Glossary of common ENT terminology used to explain swallowing and vocal disorders and treatments.

  • Amyloidosis - Disorder in which the body deposits a certain type of protein in a variety of tissues. The deposits may cause the growth of benign masses. The cause of this disorder is unknown.
  • Aspiration -  Food or liquid passing into the windpipe.
  • Atrophy - Loss of volume due to lack of use or loss of nerve supply, as in a paralyzed muscle.
  • Barium -  Chalky material used when performing certain types of X-ray tests. This material shows up on X-rays and can be used to demonstrate abnormalities of certain internal organs.
  • Barrett’s Esophagus - Precancerous condition of the esophagus which is a result of uncontrolled acid reflux disease. Patients with Barrett’s changes in the esophagus should be followed regularly to screen for cancer.
  • Botulinum Toxin (Botox) - Drug made from the bacterium known as Clostridia Botulinum. This is actually a toxin produced by this bacterium which causes muscle paralysis. Used in a diluted dose, this toxin can be useful for certain disorders.
  • CO 2 Laser - A type of laser commonly used in surgery. This particular type of laser cuts very superficially and causes little damage to surrounding tissues if used properly.
  • CT scan - Also known as a CAT scan, this imaging technique utilizes x-rays to provide detailed images of internal structures.
  • Dysphagia - Difficulty swallowing.
  • EndoCdx Brush Biopsy - Technique of biopsy involving a brush that is passed through a flexible endoscope. This procedure is relatively painless, and can often get a good sample of tissue from a lesion.
  • Endoscope - A medical device used to examine internal structures. This device is usually based on fiberoptic technology.
  • Endoscopic Cups Forceps Biopsy - Refers to a technique in which a biopsy is obtained by using a small forceps passed through a flexible endoscope. The sample obtained is usually excellent.
  • Endoscopy - Technique used to examine internal structures using an endoscope.
  • Esophageal Adenocarcinoma - A type of cancer affecting the esophagus. Currently, this is the fastest growing (by numbers) cancer in the United States. It is very lethal. Screening for esophageal cancer is essential to survival, since early detection can improve outcome. Screening may involve transnasal esophagoscopy.
  • Esophagoscopy - Term used to describe a procedure in which an endoscope is passed into the esophagus to visualize the lining.
  • Esophagus - Muscular tube-like organ which connects the throat to the stomach.
  • Esophagitis - Condition in which the esophageal lining becomes inflamed. This is usually caused by reflux disease. Continued reflux can lead to Barrett’s Esophagus, which is a precancerous condition.
  • Gastroenterology - Field of medicine specializing in disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease - This refers to a disorder in which acid from the stomach gets into the esophagus and causes damage.
  • Graft - Tissue or other material used during reconstruction to add structure or bulk, or to resurface an area.
  • Human Papilloma Virus - A virus that is commonly found in humans. It is the cause of common warts. It comes in a variety of strains, each of which may produce growths in different locations.
  • Injection Augmentation - A form of laryngoplasty that is performed using injectable materials. This can be done in the office setting or in the operating room.
  • Intubation - Placement of a breathing tube, either during surgery or while a patient is on a ventilator. The breathing tube is placed through the vocal cords into the trachea (windpipe), and provides a route to deliver oxygen to the lungs.
  • Laryngitis - Inflammation of the larynx or voice box, commonly caused by an infection. However, it may have many possible causes.
  • Laryngologist - A specialty physician that is specifically trained in treating disorders of the voice box, esophagus and windpipe.
  • Laryngotracheal Reconstruction - Advanced technique used in patients with narrowed airways. This technique is designed to enlarge the trachea using a graft material.
  • Larynx - Commonly known as voice box.
  • Lesion - May be used to refer to any abnormality. Typically, it is used to describe a growth.
  • Microflap Surgery - When referring to surgery on the vocal cords, this describes a technique involving the use of specially designed tiny instruments to create small incisions and remove minimal amounts of tissue to improve the healing process.
  • Neurologist - A physician trained in evaluating and treating disorders of the nervous system.
  • Nissen Fundoplication - Operation designed to treat acid reflux disease. This procedure is performed by general surgeons. This procedure may be done using minimally invasive techniques by specially trained surgeons.
  • Otolaryngologist - Specialist in the field of otolaryngology.
  • Otolaryngology - Field of medicine and surgery specializing in disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and head and neck structures.
  • Paralysis - Total non-functioning of a muscle due to a lack or blockage of the nerve supply.
  • Paresis - Partial paralysis.
  • Pneumonia - Infection of the lungs.
  • Pulmonology - Field of medicine specializing in disorders of the lungs.
  • Radiology - Field of medicine dealing with imaging of the body, including x-rays, CAT scans, and MRI’s. Radiologists also perform certain invasive procedures using imaging technology.
  • Sarcoidosis - Chronic disorder of unknown cause which has a variety of manifestations, including the development of benign masses along the upper respiratory tract and in the chest. This disorder is often treated with drugs that suppress the immune system.
  • Speech Language Pathologist - Commonly known as a Speech Therapist.
  • Stent - Medical device used to maintain an opening within tissue. Examples include stents used in blood vessels in the heart to maintain blood flow in previously blocked arteries.
  • Trachea - Medical term for windpipe. The trachea connects the lungs to the voice box.
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula - A condition in which a hole is formed between the normally separated trachea and esophagus. This problem can lead to food or liquid abnormally entering the lungs, resulting in a chronic cough or recurrent pneumonia.
  • Tracheoesophageal Puncture - A procedure used to restore voice in patients after a total laryngectomy. This procedure involves placement of a voice prosthesis.
  • Tracheoscopy - Endoscopy of the trachea.
  • Tracheostomy - Surgical technique involving placement of a tube through the front of the neck into the trachea. This tube allows the patient to breathe if there is a blockage above the trachea. Tracheostomy is also used in certain instances during a hospital stay for sick patients and for certain types of cancer patients.
  • Transoral Biopsy - Refers to a technique in which a curved instrument is introduced into the mouth in order to obtain a biopsy. This technique is particularly useful when a lesion is large, and the intention is to remove some or all of the lesion.
  • Vocal Fatigue - Worsening hoarseness with continued voice use.
  • Wegener’s granulomatosis - Disorder affecting the upper respiratory tract. In this disorder, there may be destruction of tissues of the nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and kidneys. Treatment is generally aimed at suppressing the immune system.