Otolaryngologist-Head & Neck Surgeon:
The otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon is the expert in the upper airway from the level of the throat to the level of thoracic inlet (chest cavity). The otolaryngologist will evaluate and treat upper airway inflammatory disorders (allergy, nasal discharge, acid reflux) as well as conditions that cause hoarseness (vocal cord paralysis; scar; polyps) and swallowing trouble (paralysis, scar, aspiration). The otolaryngologist will perform and train patients and families in the care of tracheostomy and T-tubes, and perform interventional bronchoscopy to enlarged scarred airways. The otolaryngologist is trained in the removal of masses such as goiters that compress the airway or esophagus. The otolaryngologist will intervene with surgical resection of the scarred airway (tracheal/cricotracheal resection and anastomosis) with re-establishment of a tracheostomy-free airway in patients with severe airway blockage.
The thoracic surgeon is the surgical specialist of the lungs and lower airway within the chest cavity. The thoracic surgeon has expertise in interventional bronchoscopy of the lower airway, esophageal disorders, and obstructive tumors of the lungs and esophagus. Thoracic surgeons employ minimally-invasive techniques such as video-assisted thoracotomy and robotic horacotomy to allow access to the chest through smaller incisions to reduce the side-effects of chest surgery. The thoracic surgeon works with the otolaryngologist to release the lower windpipe from its chest attachments allowing a tension free closure of the windpipe after scar removal.
The pulmonary physician is the medical expert in disorders of the airway. This physician employs diagnostic testing and bronchoscopy to diagnose and characterize airway obstructions. This physician will manage associated disorders of the airway including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and obstructive sleep apnea. The pulmonary physician will optimize lung function with medical intervention setting the stage for a successful surgery. The pulmonary physician cares for the patient in the intensive care unit after surgery to maximize lung function, reduce risk of pneumonia, and to ensure a healthy recovery.
Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP):
Many patients with airway scar or prolonged tracheotomy tubes suffer from loss of voice and swallowing difficulty. The SLP is specialist in the functional restoration of voice and swallowing. The SLP will provide diagnosis, training, exercises, and office based interventions to improve voice and swallowing.