What is otology?

Otology is a branch of otorhinolaryngology that focuses on diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the ear. This includes conditions such as hearing loss, ear infections, cholesteatoma, tinnitus, and abnormalities of the ear structure. Otologists are medical doctors who specialize in treating these conditions and may use a combination of medical and surgical treatments to help improve ear health and function. Patients with certain forms of hearing loss may benefit from implantable hearing solutions.
Prof Ugo Fisch , otologist and skull base surgeon on my left.
Professor Fisch

Ugo Fisch is a remarkable otologist

Prof Fisch was one of the greatest otologists of our time. He was the main founder and mentor of modern otoneurology and lateral skull base microsurgery. He was also the founder of the “International Fisch Microsurgery Foundation”.

In 1967, he established the concept of subtotal petrosectomy. He also developed new concepts on middle ear surgery, including tympanoplasty techniques, mastoidectomy, stapes surgery, and all types of ossiculoplasties and continuously evaluated and published his own results.

Ugo Fisch also developed and helped design ear surgical instruments and prostheses that are still widely used by otolaryngologists and neurosurgeons worldwide.

What an otologist should know

An Otologist should thoroughly understand the inner, middle, and outer ear, including the auditory nerve and how the brain processes sound. Otologists manage adult and paediatric patients.

Otologists should be familiar with common ear disorders and diseases, such as otitis media, conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus, and vertigo. They should be able to diagnose these conditions accurately and recommend appropriate treatment options, including medication, surgery, hearing aids, or other interventions.
In addition, otologists should ideally be skilled in performing diagnostic tests and procedures, such as audiometry, tympanometry, and otoacoustic emissions testing. They should also be familiar with surgical techniques for ear conditions that may require intervention, such as cochlear implants, mastoidectomy, and  tympanoplasty.

Implantable hearing solutions are advanced hearing devices surgically implanted into the ear to improve hearing for individuals with various types of hearing loss. These devices are typically recommended for those who do not benefit from traditional hearing aids or have more severe hearing loss.

Bone conduction implants are implanted into the bone behind the ear and transmit sound vibrations through the bone to the inner ear. This type of device is often recommended for individuals with conductive hearing loss or single-sided deafness.

Middle ear implants, on the other hand, are surgically placed in the middle ear and directly stimulate the middle ear bones to improve hearing. This technology is often recommended for individuals with sensorineural hearing loss who do not benefit from hearing aids.

What specific training is required?

No specific training or board examination is required to become and practice as an otologist. What is needed is a keen, enthusiastic interest, a steady hand and the willingness to attend numerous training courses.

Dr Hofmeyr’s experience in otology

Dr Hofmeyr is privileged to have work exclusively in otology and neurotology for more than 20
years. I had the opportunity to train with some of the best teachers: Prof Herman Hamersma, Prof Johannes Swart and Prof André Claassen. Dr Hofmeyr attended training courses at the House Ear
Institute in Los Angeles, USA, and with Prof Ugo Fisch from Zurich, Switzerland. He mainly
followed the surgical principles of the Fisch school.

In his first year as a specialist working at 1 Military Hospital, he was privileged to perform 36
stapedotomy procedures under the watchful eye of Prof Hamersma.

Dr Hofmeyr has performed more than 400 cochlear implants utilising all three products on the South
African market. I was the first to perform a cochlear implant in Namibia.

Otology conditions

Some of the otology procedures he performs include: