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June 1981

Is Otology a Diminishing Specialty?

Arch Otolaryngol. 1981;107(6):396. doi:10.1001/archotol.1981.00790420070017

To the Editor.—An impression is gaining credence among younger otolaryngologists—those in private practice and those in residency training programs—that because of the dwindling number of stapedectomies and tympanoplasties, otology is a dying—or at least a diminishing—specialty or subspecialty. The recent proposed name change from otolaryngology to "head and neck medicine and surgery" furthers the impression that otology is no longer important.1

The introduction of Lempert's one-stage fenestration operation in 1938, the operating microscope for fenestration in 1940, tympanoplasty in 1950, stapes mobilization in 1952, and stapedectomy in 1956 made hearing restoration possible in thousands of patients previously doomed to permanent deafness. For two decades, otology and otologic surgery predominated in academic departments of otolaryngology. Then, the spate of hearing restoration operations began to recede as a large backlog of chronic, conductive hearing losses of many years' duration was depleted and as cases of acute necrotic otitis media from

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