Navigating Uncharted Waters: American Neurotology Society

September 2020 – Vol. 39, No. 8

Bradley W. Kesser, MD, ANS President
Nikolas H. Blevins, MD, ANS Immediate Past President

COVID-19, a virally-induced economic coma, race relations—“these,” as Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, “are the times that try our souls.” We face unprecedented challenges—how do we practice in a safe, secure environment that protects both patient and provider from the novel SARS-CoV-2 while continuing to provide the best care we can? How can we support those who have lost jobs, been furloughed, or are suffering in this economy? How can we as individuals and physicians stand up to those who hate and those who claim supremacy based on skin color?

Bradley W. Kesser, MD

Members of the American Neurotology Society (ANS) have played many active roles in shaping our specialty’s response to the pandemic as well as direct frontline patient care. To date, our members have helped draft Parts One and Two of the AAO-HNS “Guidance for Return to Practice for Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.”

Led by Elliott D. Kozin, MD, and Aaron K. Remenschneider, MD, MPH, (who also helped draft the AAO-HNS guidance document), a separate “Guide to Enhance Otologic and Neurotologic Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic” will soon be published in Otology & Neurotology. This manuscript will serve otologists/neurotologists well as they increase patient care volumes during variable and uncertain phases of viral spread.

Maura K. Cosetti, MD

Maura K. Cosetti, MD, penned a moving personal account of her re-deployment to serve on the front lines—running the inpatient COVID-19 ward at Mount Sinai Hospital—in the maelstrom of New York at the height of the surge of coronavirus infections in the June 2020 ANS newsletter.

J. Thomas Roland, MD, and Anil K. Lalwani, MD, also weighed in on their experiences in the June 2020 ANS newsletter as they led their departments during the New York surge in coronavirus patients.

Nikolas H. Blevins, MD

The discussion of COVID-19 continues on the ANS online discussion forum, DocMatter, in a post by member Eric W. Sargent, MD, asking about the occurrence of sudden sensorineural hearing loss and/or vestibular hypofunction in COVID-19 patients.

Introduced by Past ANS President Barry Hirsch, MD, the online DocMatter ANS Community forum boasts 284 members and has been a useful, entertaining, and information-laden addition to our specialty. Managed by Robert S. Hong, MD, PhD, the discussion forum currently hosts over 50 online discussions ranging in scope and depth from ototopical antibiotic preparations to evening hearing loss and many others.

The ANS is excited to present its Fall Super Saturday meeting completely virtually! The ANS has contracted with Digimentors to produce an epic meeting over three days, September 11-13. Highlights of the meeting include “This Old Ear” panel; the three ANS Saturday morning study groups—Facial Nerve (moderated by John P. Leonetti, MD), Stereotactic Radiosurgery (moderated by P. Ashley Wackym, MD), and the William House Cochlear Implant Group (moderated by Craig A. Buchmann, MD); PLUS a fourth study group—Evaluation and Management of the Third Window (moderated by John P. Carey, MD, and Gerard J. Gianoli, MD). Sunday features a Wellness panel (moderated by Jo A. Shapiro, MD); the Rizer Lecture on Genetic Hearing Loss by award-winning Harvard researcher Jeffrey R. Holt, PhD; and a Scary Cases panel, “Patients That Keep Us Awake at Night,” a must see (and hear)!

Finally, in partnership with the American Otological Society (AOS), the ANS has sent its members an action statement against systemic racism. The statement can be found on the ANS website.

The statement calls for the engagement of members to enact initiatives to increase our visibility to underrepresented minority (URM) medical students, to empower future leaders by offering travel grants to URM students to AOS and ANS meetings as well as funding for public health research, to address healthcare disparities including access to cochlear implantation, and to support our communities and the greater medical community in improving access to medical care for all.

Undertaking such initiatives with our fellow neurotologists make us proud to be members of the ANS and excited for the coming academic year as we all navigate uncharted waters and face unprecedented challenges. We look forward to meeting those challenges and hope that you will reach out to us with suggestions, comments, or ideas to enhance the science, education, and clinical practice of our shared specialty.