anesthesia for ear, nose, & throat surgery

The rotation in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery offers experience in the anesthetic management of procedures in head and neck oncology, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, laryngology, otology, sleep disorders and sinus disease. The patient population includes all ages and physical status classifications for both inpatient and outpatient surgery. Open communication between the anesthesiologist and surgeon is emphasized in preoperative airway assessment and shared access to the airway intraoperatively.

Otology: The anesthetic technique for tympanomastoidectomy and cochlear implant surgery allows facial nerve monitoring, provides an immobile field with minimal blood loss and facilitates smooth emergence. Patients receive prophylaxis for postoperative nausea and dizziness.

Nasal surgery and sleep disorder surgeries: Patients with sinus disease benefit from adequate analgesia and prophylaxis for postoperative nausea. Obstructive sleep apnea patients require assessment of cardiopulmonary disease, evaluation for potential airway difficulty and appropriate postoperative monitoring.

Endoscopic laser surgery: CO2 laser surgery is used in the treatment of benign and malignant laryngeal disease, allowing surgical precision and hemostasis. Prevention and management of airway fires, selection of laser-safe endotracheal tubes and the application of jet ventilation are distinctive aspects of anesthesia for laser surgery.

Transoral robotic surgery: Robotic surgery offers a minimally invasive approach for patients undergoing radical tonsillectomy, base of tongue resection and supraglottic partial laryngectomy. Careful airway assessment at the conclusion of surgery identifies patients who need to remain intubated postoperatively.

Head and neck cancer with reconstruction: History, physical examination and radiographic studies determine the extent of airway distortion; further evaluation focuses on coexisting medical disease and effects of prior chemoradiation therapy. Initial airway management may require awake intubation or tracheostomy.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery: To facilitate surgical access, patients may require nasal or submental orotracheal intubation. Application of controlled hypotension for orthognathic surgeries decreases blood loss. Patients who have sustained trauma or have soft tissue infection present for urgent surgery with a potentially difficult airway.

Airway simulation: The airway management program integrates lectures, training in the airway laboratory and clinical assignments related to adult and pediatric difficult airway assessment and management. In small group sessions residents learn techniques such as fiberoptic intubation, retrograde intubation, cricothyroidotomy and jet ventilation as well as application of the lighted stylet, intubating LMA, video laryngoscopes and other devices. Instruction with a virtual reality bronchoscopy simulator exposes residents to realistic adult and pediatric fiberoptic intubation scenarios as well as normal and abnormal tracheobronchial anatomy. This is a good example of subspecialty simulation in a laboratory setting. The annual cadaveric workshop offers an additional opportunity to practice invasive airway management techniques.


Parwane P. Pagano, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology at CUMC 
Director of Anesthesiology for Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery






Columbia University Medical Center Department of Anesthesiology