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Otolaryngology Highlights

The Department of Otolaryngology sees more than 55,000 outpatients a year for a variety of head, neck, ear, nose, and throat issues, and treats approximately 5,000 OR cases annually. With seven service sites throughout the greater Philadelphia region, Jefferson brings the care once only found in Center City to the communities of patients who need it most.  

With 24 full-time faculty member, 25 residents, and three clinical fellows, the department is thoroughly equipped with the skills and expertise to identify, diagnose, and treat all manner of head and neck issues. The Department of Otolaryngology also has nine centers of excellence dedicated to subspecialties including general otolaryngology, advanced head and neck cancer, thyroid and parathyroid, sinus and skull base, otology/neurotology, voice and swallowing, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, allergy, and sleep medicine. Collaborations between these subspecialties and other departments across the Jefferson enterprise allow for truly comprehensive care to be provided.

“We look at the throat as the main alleyway between the brain and the rest of the body. The same thing functions at Jefferson, where otolaryngology brings multiple departments together through collaboration,” says William Keane, MD, chair and the Herbert Kean, MD, Professor of Otolaryngology for the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, and the co-director of the Jefferson Center for Head and Neck Surgery. “The unique thing about Jefferson really is the collaboration that exists here.”

The Department of Otolaryngology operates under a trifold mission dedicated to clinical excellence, educational leadership, and transformative research. This approach has allowed the department to not only grow as a clinical center of excellence but also as an academic destination for the next generation of otolaryngologists.

“They feed into each other,” says David Cognetti, MD, vice chair of the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery and co-director of the Jefferson Center for Head and Neck Surgery. “If you do one very well it allows you to do the other very well, and it allows it to feed back into one another.”

Over the past decade, this approach has enabled Jefferson to climb to the top in U.S. News & World Report rankings—firmly establishing Jefferson as industry leaders in otolaryngology and head and neck surgery. 

The patients are the center of everything. It’s really the truth. As we watch people, it inspires us to do better. Our patients and their families are why we’ve been so successful.

David Cognetti, MD

The Department of Otolaryngology also has one of the busiest robotic surgery centers in the country—performing over 100 surgeries a year—and now the department is offering training in these advanced techniques. Cutting-edge procedures like this allow our physicians to ensure that patients receive the highest-quality care.

“The patients are the center of everything. It’s really the truth,” Cognetti says. “As we watch people, it inspires us to do better. Our patients and their families are why we’ve been so successful.”

The doctors and researchers in the otolaryngology department are dedicated to discovering innovative new solutions to the issues that affect our patients. Our team develops homegrown solutions by taking problems directly from the patient’s bedside to the lab and back to the bedside for effective treatment.

While there is no shortage of talent or expertise in the otolaryngology departments, our physicians recognize the benefits of collaboration. By partnering with outside organizations, research can be conducted utilizing emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict how patients will respond to therapy.

“The strength and desire for us to grow in head and neck cancer is to develop new therapies,” says Joseph Curry, MD, associate professor in the department.  “We can take what is currently available and push that toward the next step, to push that toward something new, and eventually treat people with therapies that are less invasive and less destructive, and hopefully offer higher cure rates.”

A patient’s care doesn’t end after they leave one of our sites of service. Jefferson physicians and researchers are not only interested in increasing cure rates, but are also focused on decreasing side-effects and improving the overall quality of life for patients. They’re working closely to bring patients and their families closer to the research in order to drive innovation and create real change.

“Our goal universally, both by the patients and by us, is to improve our cure rates and decrease our side effects,” says Adam Luginbuhl, MD, director of medical student education. “Can we do better? And the answer is yes! Yes, we can do better.”