Head & Neck Services

Rocky Mountain Ear, Nose, & Throat Center | Allergy Center | Hearing Center | Missoula, Bozeman & Hamilton, MT


The thyroid gland is located in the neck under the voice box and helps regulate the body’s metabolism. Thyroid tumors and other diseases can cause the thyroid to produce too much hormone, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Thyroid tumors may be malignant (cancerous), and can spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms of thyroid cancer include an enlarged thyroid gland or nodule, swelling in the neck, hoarseness, cough and difficulty swallowing.

Surgery may be recommended to remove adenomas or cancers in the thyroid or to remove the entire gland.


Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, the fleshy areas at the back of the throat, caused by a virus or bacteria. This condition is common in children and spreads through contact with throat or nasal fluids. The tonsils become swollen, red and painful and may be coated with a yellow or white substance.

Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a virus, although it can sometimes be caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. Tonsillitis symptoms are similar to those of strep throat or a common cold and may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Laryngitis

Your doctor will usually be able to identify tonsillitis by finding red and swollen tonsils with spots or sores on them. A rapid strep test may also be performed to determine the cause. Tonsillitis can usually be treated at home through rest and drinking plenty of liquids. Antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial infections. Surgery to remove the tonsils may be recommended if a child has had several serious throat infections in a short period of time.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS Therapy®) is designed to prevent seizures by sending regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve. These pulses are supplied by a device something like a pacemaker.

The VNS device is sometimes referred to as a “pacemaker for the brain.” It is placed under the skin on the chest wall and a wire runs from it to the vagus nerve in the neck.

The vagus nerve is part of the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions of the body that are not under voluntary control, such as the heart rate. The vagus nerve passes through the neck as it travels between the chest and abdomen and the lower part of the brain.

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Missoula Clinic, Rocky Mountain Allergy Center, and The Hearing Center will be closed on Monday, May 29th for the Memorial Day holiday. All office locations will re-open on Tuesday