Dallas Foundation of Otology

In September 1972, Dr. Owens founded the Dallas Foundation of Otology and opened a microsurgical laboratory at BUMC. This was done with the help of the Baylor Health Care System Foundation and the family of Mrs. Hannah Davis. The laboratory has been an important teaching facility for otologic surgeons; by the year 2000, 900 students had completed courses in otologic surgery.

Fall Ear Seminar

Watch the following video to see how the Physicians of the Owens Ear Center strive to teach young surgeons about complex ear surgery.

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History of the Dallas Foundation of Otology
by Fred D. Owens, MD

BACKGROUND: I began my interest in temporal bone anatomy in my first year of residency in 1967 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ralph Caparosa, MD had developed a course several years earlier teaching temporal bone anatomy at Pittsburgh Eye and Ear Hospital. He then developed a program for a temporal bone course for residents only. I was priveleged to attend the first of these courses along with my co-resident William Jakers. Dr. Caparosa received a great deal of criticism from some universities for assuming that he could teach residents temporal bone anatomy. However, through the years, many of these programs appreciated how such a course could help with teaching the residents temporal bone anatomy as they developed their techniques in ear surgery. I took courses with Dr. Caparosa three times a year for one week during my residency. This required spending my vacation time doing temporal bone courses. However, it was a great privilege to go to Pittsburgh and work with Ralph Caparosa, Lloyd Storrs from Lubbock, Texas, and Carl Cather from Morgantown, West Virginia. Carl was instrumental in getting Ralph Caparosa to take me as a resident and convincing my resident program director, Phil Sprinkle to permit me to go. Carl Cather not only obtained his permission but paid the tuition which at that time was $100 for the one week course. After that first course, I usually took my own microscope and equipment and sat at an extra desk without having to pay tuition. I did, however, help offset the expenses of the course by bringing temporal bones from the University of West Virginia in Morgantown to this course. These courses were designed to have two courses that were basic and one advanced course. It was the desire of Dr. Caparosa that a physician attend a basic course and than come back a second week for the advanced course. These courses were held in May, November, and February with each beginning on a Saturday morning and lasting until the following Friday afternoon. The courses were held at Pittsburgh Eye and Ear. The surgery was done by Dr. Caparosa at Pittsburgh Eye and Ear. The lodging was at Webster Hall in Pittsburgh. Dr. Caparosa entertained lavishly during the week with dinners at his country club and Pittsburgh Athletic Center and other restaurants. We worked very hard throughout the day but had a great deal of camaraderie every evening. From these courses, I developed my love of temporal bone anatomy and otologic surgery.

On finishing my residency at West Virginia University in Otolaryngology, I entered practice in Lexington, Kentucky doing primarily otology.After one and a half years in practice in Lexington, Kentucky, I was fortunate to be accepted into a fellowship at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles,Califomia. I had already begun teaching temporal bone anatomy after finishing my residency at Pittsburgh Eye and Ear at the courses with Dr.Ralph Caparosa. I had also taken the first course given by the House Ear Institute in the Jameson Laboratory in Los Angeles, Californiain in February of 1970. This was a two week course and was the first given in the Jameson Laboratory in Los Angeles. At that course, I was privileged to meet the members of the House Ear Institute at that course. I inquired as to why they did not have a fellowship in otology to try to teach young otolaryngologists more about otology. To my surprise, in May of 1970, I received a call from Jack Pulec, MD who offered me a fellowship at the House Ear Institute to study otology.I was unable to dispose of my practice and begin my fellowship in May of 1970, and they agreed that I could come January 1, 1971. So, I began my fellowship January 1, 1971 finishing December 30, 1971

Following my fellowship, I visited several cities in an effort to determine where I should locate to practice otology and neurotology. I had worked in fellowship primarily with Dr.William House who is known as the father of neurotology, and I was now looking for a practice where I could do otology which I was well versed in from Ralph Caparosa, Lloyd Storrs,and Carl Cather as well as the House Ear Institute doctors primarily in chronic ear,Jim Sheehy and Jim Crabtree. I had a tremendous experience under the tutelage of William House to do neurologic procedures including acoustic neuromas, the techniques of which were primarily developed by William F. House. I visited primarily,Atlanta, San Diego,and Dallas,Texas. My decision was to go to Dallas which I prepared to move and did move to on January 1,1972. Shortly after arriving in Dallas, I attended, in February, a temporal bone course in Pittsburgh with Ralph Caparosa. At that time,I discussed with Lloyd Storrs from Lubbock, Texas and Ralph Caparosa the possibility that I might start a temporal bone resection course in Dallas, Texas.

After much thought and preparation, we decided to give a temporal bone course in September of 1972 in Dallas, Texas. The reason we felt that this was possible was that Dallas was very accessible from any point in the United States. The decision to develop a temporal bone course was to try to add to the only other two major temporal bone courses at that time which were, of course, in Pittsburgh with Ralph Caparosa and the course in Los Angeles with the House Ear Institute. Because we did not want doctors paying me to study temporal bone anatomy, we decided to form the Dallas Foundation of Otology whose purpose was to teach temporal bone anatomy and to develop other courses to help promote the teaching of otology to residents and practitioners who felt a need for such information. Therefore, there was a formal procedure to form a foundation which was done in the state of Texas through the Secretary of State.

TEMPORAL BONE LAB: The Temporal Bone Lab was first developed at Callier Hearing and Speech Center who had given us permission to use a room for a laboratory. The water supply and air suction for the lab was developed by me through copper pipe that I personally soldered and placed the valves in position. There were nine benches in this lab. The equipment for the lab was from my office and the microscopes from other offices of otolaryngologists in Dallas who allowed us to use their scopes for the week of this course. The instructors were my old friends from Pittsburgh including Carl Cather, Ralph Caparosa, Lloyd Storrs, and other young people my age who had met at the courses in Pittsburgh. These included John Youngblood from Austin, Texas, Bill McCool from Michigan, Buddy Harwitz from Houston, Texas, and Gail Gardner from Memphis, Tennessee. This made a tremendously talented group of instructors. The older instructors were very well experienced and well versed in teaching temporal bone anatomy. The younger were young lions in otolaryngology and otology who were very bright, very interested in teaching temporal bone anatomy, and experienced through having taken courses in Pittsburgh with Ralph Caparosa. The laboratory was finished on the morning that the course started while the first lecture was being given by Val Jordan who was also one of the stalwarts of the Pittsburgh course. Val had developed three dimensional slides that are used to this day in our laboratory to teach temporal bone anatomy in 3D to our students on the first day of our course every year. Val's lectures at that time would last an entire day. He had tremendous three dimensional photographs. While his lecture was proceeding, we were literally sweeping the floor and cleaning the lab out in preparation for the students to come into the temporal bone lab.

I had purchased a black and white TV camera from Jack Urban from Urban Engineering who had developed a temporal bone lab at the House Ear Institute. Fortunately, Jack had come to Dallas early to make sure that the TV worked and that all the equipment that we were using that he had developed was in good order. When I turned on the suction, it immediately drained all the power where no suction was available. Jack Urban looked at the tubing and informed me that the tubes were much too large and that they would have to be reduced in order to have suction for each of the stations. He pulled out a pair of coveralls from his bag and asked me if there was a mechanical room with equipment in the Callier Hearing and Speech Center which there was. He took material, went to the machine shop, made reducers for each of the nine units, and the day was saved. Jack Urban was one of three that I have known in my life that I consider absolute genius. The other two are William House and Lloyd Storrs. We had our course, and it was extremely well received by the students. The lab was relatively primitive to the labs that we have today, but it was sufficient, and the instructors and students both were impressed that in nine months we had been able to develop a temporal bone course. Our plans were to have three courses designed the same as those by Ralph Caparosa. We had three courses a year and the next year and the following year.

After three years in Dallas, I moved my office to Baylor University Medical Center, and we designed and built a laboratory adjacent to the office and connected to the office. This lab was designed by Jack Urban and was 12 benches. The equipment by now was our own equipment. Equipment microscopes were the Brazilian knockoffs of the OPMI I Zeiss Scope. These scopes were adequate for a temporal bone lab, but the optics did not approach that of the Zeiss Scopes. We continued to have the same instructors and the same format during these years. Our students were usually about half practicing otolaryngologists and about half were residents. Gradually through the years, this has decreased to now probably 75% of the participants in the course are residents and 25% are practitioners. Always throughout these years, the most difficult part ofthe has been the specimens, that is, the temporal bones dissected by the students. They became increasingly more difficult to find and purchase. Our cost in the beginning of temporal bone was about $7. Now, most of the temporal bones that obtain cost $125-$150 each. The students usually use three or four bones per temporal bone course.

Since we live in Texas and one of the major reasons that I came to Texas was to enjoy quail hunting, we began to have, after the first year, quail hunts in Montague County about 100 miles north of Dallas. These events were primarily for the instructors to get together prior to the course for two or three days to have camaraderie and enjoy quail hunting. These were great times for all of us and are remembered by all of us with great fondness. There was always great food, fellowship, and hunting in those years. The quail hunt would be in the January course, and in the 8eptember course, we would have a dove hunt. Sometimes students might come early and participate in these hunts as well. This was our way of paying our instructors for their time and devotion to courses.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology began meeting in Dallas, Texas in the early 70s. In 1975, I met Juan Andrade, MD from Mexico City. Juan was the head of otolaryngology at the Hospital General in Mexico City. His father had been the director of the hospital for many years prior to Juan's ascension to this job. He had become one my closest friends. Juan invited me to participate in a temporal bone course in Mexico City at the Hospital General. I enjoyed the course very much but was totally impressed at how difficult it was for them to teach temporal bone anatomy. Their course was set up in an operating room and had very archaic equipment which seemed to be broken most of the time. The students were very patient and would work towards repairing equipment. Their time in the lab was very short. They would have two students per each bench, and they would have two to three hours to drill each day. They discontinued work for their siesta at about two o'clock, and they did not return to the lab. It was that the young people taking the course they should have to relieve themselves in the restroom would literally run to the restroom and back to get to their bench. I discussed with Juan the possibility of giving a course for Spanish speaking students in our lab in Dallas. He agreed, and with the help of numerous friends from Mexico City and Guadalajara, we began to have a course each year for 16 Spanish speaking students. Their funds were very minimal, and these courses were funded by the Dallas Foundation of Otology. Approximately 30 of these courses have been given since the onset in 1976. We continue to give two courses, one in late January and another in mid October for the practitioners and residents from the United an occasional student from Mexico. This student was selected as the student who the best scores on the board exams in Mexico and participated as the Juan Andrade Scholarship Fund which was set up by Juan Andrade in memory of his father. This student continues to this day and usually comes to the course that we have

The lab was moved in the year 2000 to Baylor Hospital proper. This developed from the insistence of one of our patients who had been a major donor to Baylor. When he looked through our lab and felt like it was much too small andn eeded a better space, he convinced Baylor to provide this space.The lab was used to the fourthf loor of the Johnson Building of Baylor Hospital. The lab remained there for approximately four years and then was moved tothe Bush Building as Baylor needed the space for an intensive care unit.The labtoday is housed in the Bush Building on Elm Street in Dallas, Texas.

OTHER DALLAS FOUNDATION OF OTOLOGY ACTIVITIES: Beginning in 1975, the Dallas Foundation of Otology began sponsoring a one day course given at the airport by invitation onlyt o otologists from around the country. The same instructors always were invited and participated, but we also invited other well-known otologists from throughout the country. At these courses, we would have only flip charts with no slides, no projectors, and no heroes. A particular otologic subject would be chosen,and we would all discuss that subject from 8:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon with lunch provided in the conference room. This not only by me but by those whoever participated in it felt that this was the most informative day in otology that they would ever have. These were fun days, informative days, and very useful to all of us practicing otology. We ceased having these after about 25 years and began to have these courses coincide with our golf tournament being held on the Saturday prior to our golf tournament on Monday. We still have meetings suchas this at our golf tournament prior to Monday but now open this up to otolaryngologists as well as world renowned otologists.

FELLOWSHIPS: In 1993, I began to take a fellow in to my office under the auspices in support of the Dallas Foundation of Otology. We had one of these a year for seven years including two young men from Ireland both of whom have returned and are doing great work in Ireland, one in Glasgow and one in Dublin. In 1999, Robert Owens joined the Otology Consultant staff having finished a fellowship in Los Angeles at the House Ear Institute. Having another full-time interested otologist in the office has made the Dallas Foundation of Otology even more productive in teaching and in helping children with otologic conditions.

Ft Worth Office
900 Jerome St
Suite 200
Ft Worth, TX 76110
Phone: 817-332-3277
Toll Free: 800-OwensEar
Fax: 817-332-3299
Plano Office
6509 W. Plano Pkwy.
Plano, TX 75093
Phone: 972-781-1462
Toll Free: 800-OwensEar
Fax: 972-378-4125