Otolaryngology occupies a unique position in medicine. Ninety percent of patients seen by otolaryngologists have problems that can be treated nonsurgically. Viewed in this light, otolaryngology is a medical specialty. However, the average otolaryngologist operates two or three days each week, and otolaryngology is usually thought to be a surgical specialty. Academically and administratively, in some centers otolaryngology is considered a division of general surgery, a characterization that today is inappropriate. It is understandable that the categorization of otolaryngology has perplexed medical school administrators. Most schools have made otolaryngology an independent department, but still are reluctant to grant it its rightful share of the core curriculum; hence, many physicians graduate from medical school with little or no exposure to this specialty. It is appropriate that up-to-date texts addressing themselves to the subject be available.
Approximately 25% to 40% of all patients consulting general physicians have complaints referable to the ears,