13 July 2010 | Mr David Albert | Specialist Paediatric Otolaryngologist | The Portland Hospital
Mr David Albert believes that the best way to find out what is really going on with your child’s ear, nose and throat (ENT) problems is in a child-friendly room which is fun for the child and allows time for a careful in-depth discussion.
Imagine a remote control helicopter, a pop-up pirate and a Thomas the Tank Engine train set. Now imagine, if you can, a machine that allows you to actually see your child’s eardrums, tonsils, adenoids or voicebox and you will find yourself in the exciting office of Mr David Albert, a specialist paediatric otolaryngologist.
Putting Children First
For the past 18 years, Mr Albert has been carrying out a relaxed and child-friendly approach within his private practice at The Portland Hospital, London. The emphasis is, above all else, on a stress-free environment – medicine with the intimidation taken out. A full-time healthcare assistant helps during the physical examination and then spends time occupying the patient while Mr Albert talks to the parents. “This allows me to concentrate on the discussion of options which I think is important” says Mr Albert.
He loves using sketches to explain what is going on to his patients and gives a copy to the parents at the end of the consultation. His approach is conservative, starting with advice and medical treatment, followed by review and then, if required, surgical intervention. ’About 1 in 10 of my patients requires admission for surgery,’ he says. “Most children’s ENT problems can be treated medically in the first instance. So many common problems are self limiting, the skill is in identifying which children really need help and which parents just need reassurance.”
Mr Albert has a wealth of experience dealing with both common and rare ENT conditions in children. Nasal obstruction, troublesome tonsils, glue ear and hearing loss are some of the common ailments afflicting his Portland patients. “Patients with hearing loss or sleep disturbance may be struggling at school, while frequent ear and throat infections can really affect a child’s quality of life,” he says.
Mr Albert became fascinated by children’s ENT problems in 1984, when he had to deal with a very small newborn baby weighing about 1lb who had breathing difficulties. He went on to study the effects of intubation (the placement of a tube into a patient’s wind pipe to aid breathing) on the neonatal larynx, and the surgery to help these small children. He then undertook further training at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and completed two fellowships at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where he was head of paediatric ENT research.
Mr Albert has been making surgical inroads for the past 20 years, performing the first UK-based single stage reconstruction of the larynx in 1991 and the first cochlear implant at Great Ormond Street in 1992. He is also credited with the UK development of bipolar diathermy tonsillectomy and suction diathermy adenoidectomy, which reduce both intra-operative blood loss and surgery time.
These are two of the techniques Mr Albert regularly uses in surgery at The Portland Hospital where he works closely with a specialist paediatric consultant anaesthetist, Dr Adrian Lloyd-Thomas, who has anaesthetised over 10,000 patients at The Portland Hospital alone. Since establishing the first full-time paediatric ENT practice in the UK in 1991, nearly 9,000 patients have passed through Mr Albert’s safe hands at The Portland Hospital.
“As a father, I know how important it is to make the right decision for your child,” he says. Indeed, a question he is often asked is what would you do if this was your child? “I love my time in theatre,” says Mr Albert. “Every patient is different and I love the challenge of finding the right technique for them.”
As current president of the British Association for Paediatric Otolaryngology (BAPO), Mr Albert remains at the forefront of surgical and clinical development in the UK. His current focus is on the development of endoscopic and minimally invasive laryngeal surgery, and he continues to maintain his role as lead ENT clinician at Great Ormond Street alongside his private practice at The Portland Hospital.
A Mum’s View
Alex, was 3 years old when he had to have his tonsils removed, his mother commented “Alex was struggling, he was miserable from six months of age with frequent sore throats, ear infections, high temperatures and buckets of antibiotics. I seemed to spend my whole time at the doctor’s, Alex’s sleep was disturbed (and mine!) and we were both cranky in the morning.”
Alex was better on long-term antibiotics but all his symptoms just returned as soon as the course of antibiotics stopped. “I remember the long discussion I had with Mr David Albert about the pros and cons of Alex having surgery, and eventually decided to go ahead with the procedure. Taking out his tonsils and adenoids changed Alex’s life – and mine.”
For further information or to arrange an ENT appointment please contact Mr David Albert secretary on 020 7390 8300 or visit his website at http://www.albert.uk.com/