Chicago Laryngological & Otological Society

Centennial History of the Chicago Laryngological & Otological Society

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The Chicago Laryngological and Otological Society (CL&O) was organized in 1899 as the Chicago Laryngological and the Climatological Society. At the first meeting January 19, 1899, Ephriam Fletcher Ingals was elected President. The 21 charter members, included W. L. Ballenger, W. E. Casselberry, O.T. Freer, N. H. Pierce, G. E. Shambaugh, and J. Holinger.

The history of the Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery in Chicago actually began in 1858 when Edward L. Holmes (1828-1900) established the Chicago Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary in his own offices. A Harvard Medical School graduate whose specialty training was in Vienna, Paris, and Berlin, Holmes supported this project for years with his own funds. In 1871, the year of the Chicago fire, the Illinois Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary emerged as a state institution. The first permanent building was completed in 1874.

The evolution of ENT to Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery is an interesting story. During the last three decades of the 20th century, some physicians limited their practices to diseases of the eye and ear (“oculists and aurists”) and became professors of ophthalmology and otology (hence, the Eye and Ear Infirmary). Internists who specialized in chest diseases became pioneers in laryngology and rhinology. Early in the history of the CL&O, a number of physicians who today would be internists were presented for membership, probably because of their interest in diseases of the chest. CL&O founder E. Fletcher Ingals’ specialty was nose, throat and chest. Today, of course, the combination is ear, nose and throat–Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery –which includes facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, head and neck cancer surgery and trauma, allergy, and the pediatric otolaryngology; many of our colleagues complete one or two year fellowships after five years of residency (which includes one year of general surgery), and limit their practices exclusively to one of these subspecialty disciplines. Otolaryngologists comprise about 1.4% of physicians and surgeons in the U.S.; approximately 7,000 are in active practice.

The Society became the Chicago Laryngological and Otological Society in 1905. It continues an active existence to this day, meeting monthly during the academic year. Many of its members have earned national and international recognition for their achievements and many distinguished otolaryngologists have visited Chicago to address the members and residents who attend the meetings. On January 20, 1914, with 25 members present, Chevalier Jackson delivered a dissertation on endoscopic methods. No expense was sparred; in 1912 dues had been increased from $3.00 to $5.00 per year, and in 1913, the dinner charge was $1.50!

A number of landmark scientific contributions to the specialty were first presented before the Society. In 1902 Dr. Sharmbaugh described the first case of pure labryrinthine (cochlear) otosclerosis diagnosed during life. Dr. O.S. Van Alyea first described his natural osteum cannulas for irrigating the maxillary, frontal and sphenoid sinuses before the Society. Dr. Julius Lempert, presented his early work on the fenestration operation in 1941. Sir Terrance Cawthorne presented his classic description of the congenital cholesteatoma of the petrosa before the CL& O. Another first was the first presentation at a scientific meeting on transtemporal bone removal of acoustic neuromas by Dr. William House.



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Chicago Laryngological & Otological Society
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