Report by Codruta Neumann, ENT Consultant, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
The Matthew Yung & Chris Raine Otology Travelling fellowship enabled me to spend two weeks in Antwerp where Professors Thomas Sommers, Erwin Offeciers, Andrzej Zarowski and Dr Joost van Dinther made me feel very welcome. The department is known for exceptional results in cholesteatoma surgery, and performs a wide range of complex otology and lateral skull base procedures, cochlear implantation, rhinology, anterior skull base and head and neck surgery. I was particularly interested to see their technique for bony obliteration tympanoplasty, a technique that was developed primarily to prevent recurrent cholesteatoma. My time spent in the department observing surgery, in addition to attending the 9th BOT Course, convinced me of merits of the technique. Another useful tip was the M-O technique for meato-canalplasty that proves to be a good solution not only for cholesteatoma surgery but for canal stenosis secondary to otitis externa as well. The lecture on middle ear biology by Professoor Andrzej Zarowski underpinned the philosophy behind the BOT. An excellent session on temporal bone imaging was delivered by Dr Bert de Foer and Dr Jean-Phillipe Vercruysse. I was happy to hear that the Antwerp team would be open to be contacted for advice and further collaboration by our radiology colleagues in the UK.
Working lunch at the BOT Course
While in the department I spent some time in the outpatients and visited their dynamic audiovestibular department, which is fully equipped with calorics, VEMP, vHIT, posturography and rotating chair for both diagnosis and research.
Temporal bone lab.
I must confess to a tinge of envy of the temporal bone lab; a fully equipped lab with operating microscopes, otology instruments, and liberally supplied with fresh frozen heads. Surgeons in the department use it for training and courses and the residents have half a day per week in the lab for dissection. This must be the dream of any budding otologist!
Aside from the great time I had at the European Institute for ORL, Antwerp is a wonderful city to spend a couple of weeks in the spring. One can commute to work on the community bike and feel part of the local crowd in the early morning rush hour of the cycle lane, jostling for space with cycle buggies and toddlers with stabilisers bikes. Antwerp’s rich history and culture make for a very interesting stay and its many museums, galleries and beautiful architecture have kept me entertained for days.
The Otology Travelling Fellowship has enabled me to learn new surgical techniques, from professional friendships and become intimate with a wonderful European city. I would thoroughly recommend the experience to any otologist that is looking for a new perspective in their practice. Travelling to another department and being able to observe their running of the service, along with new techniques and new ideas is invaluable, and cannot be communicated in a scientific paper or book chapter. The travelling apprenticeships of years gone by have something to teach us today, and I feel I just had a slice of that.
The next two recipient centres for the Matthew Yung & Chris Raine Otology Travelling Scholarship will be St Louis, Washington, to visit Professor Joel Goebel on 4-14 September 2018 (emphasis on Balance) and Boston, USA, to visit Professors Dennis Poe and Daniel Lee on 24 September – 5 October, 2018 (emphasis on paediatric ear surgery and eustachian tube surgery).