Event Details
Date: 5 December 2019

Location name: London, UK

Location address: Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole St, Marylebone, London W1G 0AE

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Report by: Zainab Ali Sherazi, MCh Clinical Research Fellow, Wigan, Wrightington & Leigh NHS Trust 

The British Society for the History of ENT annual meeting was held in the Toynbee Mackenzie ENT Room at The Royal Society of Medicine in London. With portraits of past ENT surgeons and an array of historical ENT instruments on display, the festively decorated meeting venue was welcoming and warm. 

The meeting started with a welcome talk from the Mr Neil Weir, inviting delegates and speakers to view the exhibitions in the library including portrait of Manuel Garcia, the ‘inventor of the laryngoscope’, and those by the American and Hungarian laryngological association including laryngoscopy books in the ‘Tardis display cabinet’. 

The meeting was a mix of nine trainee presentations and four keynote speakers this year. The afternoon was kick started by a take on use of cartoons about tonsillectomy to satirize through the 20th century followed by a whistle stop tour on etymology of ENT anatomy through a Roman forum. There were delightful presentations on the history of olfaction, recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, history of deaf education and that of the Boyle-Davis gag as well as a shared airway presentation on history of anaesthesia in ENT surgery. One trainee highlighted the life and work of Henry Butlin, a protégée of James Paget, and his role as the father of head and neck surgery. The talks were informative, engaging and captivating. However, my highlight of the trainee presentations was one on ‘The tracheostomy that warped history causing the world’s most mammoth conspiracy theories’ by Raguwinder Sahota. It was both thought provoking and engaging for the audience with plenty of discussion and debate. 

The keynote speaker Albert Mundy highlighted the dangers of reliance on online resources such as Wikipedia with his presentation on ‘Geswein hole’, a fanciful Wikipedia eponym for a pre-auricular sinus and warned about unrestricted and non-scientific content. Dr Suresh Pillai from India spoke fervently about Sushruta, an Indian physician 600BC who pioneered antiseptic techniques, use of marijuana for anaesthesia, pedicled cheek flaps and rhinoplasty. Dr Peter Bull talked about the history of a Victorian FRCS gown and visiting Professor Jeremy Hornibrook from Christchurch talked about Julius Ewald and his book on inner ear describing mechanical stimulation of the labyrinth. Speaking to Prof Hornibrook over a break revealed his great interest in the historical surgical instrument display, which included a tonsil guillotine. As a child he witnessed tonsillectomy procedures being performed with a tonsil guillotine whilst sitting on the anesthetist’s lap. 

The meeting provided a great opportunity for young trainees to learn about history of ENT surgery in an interactive way, network with current and past surgeons. There was also opportunity to get involved with the committee, so please watch this space for some updates to the current website. Congratulations to Christopher Summers and Raguwinder Sahota for being the worthy winners awarded the JLO Prize for the best doctor in training presentations.

Next Meeting: 03 December 2020