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We are all ears, Dr Yip!

Meet Dr Yip Chun Wai, Senior Consultant, Department of Neurology (SGH Campus) who tells us more about Neuro-otology. Less known to the public, Neuro-otology is a branch of clinical medicine under Neurology that deals with disorders of the inner ear and its connections with the brain.

How then is it different from the practice of ENT (Otolaryngology) and what led Dr Yip Chun Wai on this path?

Dr Yip spills.

1. What is Neuro-otology?

Neuro-otology is a subspecialisation dealing with disorders of the inner ear and/or brain dysfunction. More often than not, a Neuro-otologist is also an ENT surgeon (Otolaryngology) that deals with the ear, nose and throat.

2. What are some of the common conditions you see under Neuro-otology?

I see patients with vestibular dysfunction or disorders of the inner ear and brain, what we refer to as the vestibular system. These patients experience symptoms of dizziness, vertigo and disturbances of balance. 

As different disorders (neurological , non-neurological and otological) can cause vestibular dysfunction, there is no one specific age/gender profile of a patient.

3. What is the relationship between a Neuro-otologist and an Otolaryngologist?

A Neurologist trained in Neuro-otology, and an Otolaryngologist who practices Neuro-otology share common and complementary skills in the diagnosis and management of vestibular disorders.

Whilst the Neuro-otologist is a medical specialist and the Otolaryngologist is a surgeon, they work in close collaboration to ensure the best outcomes.

4. Why did you decide to pursue a specialisation in Neuro-otology?

To be a pioneer in a unique specialty in the field of Neurology. The practice of Neuro-otology is a growing subspecialty in Neurology with increased knowledgeabout the vestibular system, allowing allow us to elevate the standard of care for our patients.

5. What are the qualities needed to be a successful Neuro-otologist?

I suppose one has to be a successful Neurologist first, and still have the desire and flexibility to learn new skills beyond Neurology.

6. What are some of the challenges you face as a Neuro-otologist?

It was challenging setting up a vestibular service from scratch with no trained technical staff or equipment in the Neurology Department that could support this initiative. The solution was to leverage on the existing capabilities of ENT Department at SGH to forge a collaboration that improves our patients’ lives!