Otolaryngology: "It's All Greek to Me". Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Jackler, R. K., Mudry, A. 2014; 150 (3): 337-341


This study explores the origins and evolution of the specialty name for what is now primarily known in the English-speaking world as otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. This appellation is the longest and least pronounceable of all medical specialties. While it is reasonably well understood among medical professionals, surveys show that only a small fraction of health consumers understand its meaning. The ideal medical specialty name should have a meaning recognizable to a large segment of the public, be easily pronounceable, be reasonably short, and serve to communicate the type of illnesses treated. The cumbersomeness of the specialty name has led to nearly universal use of informal substitutes, which do not covey the scope of contemporary practice (eg, ear, nose, and throat) and to abbreviations (eg, ENT, ORL, OHNS). Based on the commercial experience, it is clear that shorter is better. The authors advocate that dialog be opened, guided by the experience from instances of successful corporate rebranding, to consider possible alternatives.

View details for DOI 10.1177/0194599813514366

View details for PubMedID 24316790