ENT medicine is often associated with childhood maladies. Whilst still relatively new, by the 20th century, paediatric medicine as a specialty was well established. The first paediatric hospital opened in Paris in 1802, and in the UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital was opened in 1852. Although case studies of juveniles featured in some early prize lectures (e.g. Wright’s 1949 exploration of the function of the tonsils), it wasn’t until the 1960’s that children received special mention or focus in the Semon Lectures.
In 1960, Holinger outlined the diagnosis and treatment of congenital abnormalities of the larynx, trachea, bronchi and also the oesophagus (which Belsey also covered in his 1972 lecture), stressing the importance of endoscopy in otolaryngology. In 1963, C. H. Stuart-Harris focused his attention to acute respiratory viral infection in the young. He identified 5 groups of respiratory viruses, each characterised only a decade or so prior, and urged further research to aid in understanding their epidemiological patterns. The following year T. G. Wilson explored the aetiology of chronic rhinitis and sinusitis in children, filling what he saw as a gap in otorhinolaryngological literature.
In 1980, R. Pracy gave an account of the recent developments in paediatric otolaryngology. In 1985 Benjamin discussed the changing role of the paediatric endoscopist, highlighting advances in techniques and technology that increased the range, and importance of endoscopy, and the role that paediatric otolaryngology plays within it. in 1992, R. T. Cotton examined the role of specialist centres in paediatric laryngology focused on interdisciplinary cooperation and in 2003, Hollinger challenged the common practice on paediatric airway intervention.
Pracy’s lecture stands out due to the attention he placed on the child as a patient, and the ways in which they are different from adults–not just smaller and more delicate humans. Pracy differs from his cohort in his consideration of both physical and psychological maturity, and stresses the importance on considering such not only in diagnosis, but in treatment as well. He also acknowledges the role of the parent-child relationship in the dynamics of the doctor/patient relationship, and in ongoing care.