The Head and Neck Region

The head and neck region is defined by the area between the skull base and the top of the lungs, and represents the main corridor between the brain and the body.

Due to its confined space, it represents the densest area of vital structures in the human body. The head and neck region not only provides a transport corridor for functional input to the human body, but itself harbors an array of functional organs responsible for essentials like breathing, swallowing, speech, chewing, hearing, eyesight, balance, physical contact, exchange of emotions, and many others.

This makes treatment of head and neck disease complicated, as it is often constrained by a delicate trade-off between eradication of disease and preservation of the functional aspects essential for quality of life.

Given the variety of anatomic structures and functional organs, it is not surprising that management of head and neck disease is often shared by a variety of specialist fields and that multidisciplinary collaboration is a prerequisite for successful outcomes.

These fields include surgical specialties such as otorhinolaryngology, maxillofacial surgery, plastic surgery, dermatology, neurosurgery, and ophthalmology, but also medical specialities such as infectious diseases, endocrinology, oncology, microbiology and radiology, and several paramedical specialties (speech and language therapy, dietary/nutritional science, physiotherapy, and specialty nursing).

Given the complicated nature of head and neck disease management, the level of training and experience of individual practitioners, combined with an environment focused upon interdisciplinary collaboration rather than competition are vital requirements for successful patient outcomes.