The surgical specialty of otorhinolaryngology has its origins in the nineteenth century. Subsequently, the specialty also incorporated allied disciplines such as plastics and head and neck surgery. Following World War II, the survival of the specialty was threatened by the advent of antibiotics and the rise of the general surgeon. Despite this, the specialty of ENT was strengthened by strong post-war leadership and robust training.
Today, with ENT knowledge ever increasing, the subspecialties have again begun to subdivide. Specialisation brings improved efficiency and outcomes; however, there remains a great need for the ENT generalist. Not all cases require subspecialist attention, and the generalist remains the basis of competent emergency cover. The natural development of otorhinolaryngology has brought the invaluable synergistic knowledge required to comprehensively treat disorders of the ear, nose and throat, knowledge that must not be overlooked when shaping the future of the specialty.