History of ESPO

In the early 1950’s pioneers in pediatric otorhinolaryngology became active in European countries such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the UK, France and the Slovak Republic. At least four categories of medical practitioner – family doctors, pediatricians, otorhinolaryngologists and pediatric otorhinolaryngologists – were, and still are, involved at three levels of care: primary, secondary and tertiary.  During that period the level of care showed obvious differences between countries, and this was reflected in the number of pediatric otorhinolaryngologists practising in each country.

In 1968 a small group of pediatric otorhinolaryngologists in Italy (Carlo Gatti Manacini, Renato Fior and Giulio Pestalozza) took the initiative to organise a conference in Sirmione to share their experience and discuss potential innovations.


In 1977 a second meeting followed, organised by the same colleagues: “the official 1st World Congress of Pediatric ORL”.  At the end of this event the European Working Group in Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology (EWGPO) was founded.

After the Conference Robert Pracy, who had been Conference Chairman, Giulio Pestalozza and Robert Ruben decided to begin a new peer reviewed journal: the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.  The submitted manuscripts, which were felt to be most useful, were selected for publication in the first and second editions of the Journal.  Under Editor-in-Chief Robert Ruben the Journal developed into a prominent forum for changes in the “world of science and medicine related to pediatric otorhinolaryngology”.

In the years that followed, meetings of the EWGPO were held regularly in various countries, with local chairmen:

1979 – Warsaw, Poland (Jan Danielewicz, Eva Kossowska)

1982 – Bath, UK (Robert Pracy, John Evans)

1984 – Sevres (Paris), France (Philippe Narcy)

1986 – Eger, Hungary (Jeno Hirschberg, Zoltan Labas)

1987 – Nijmegen, Netherlands (Cor Cremers)

1988 – Paris, France (Jacques Desnos)

1990 – Ghent, Belgium (Paul van Cauwenberge)

1992 – Sirmione, Italy (Renato Fior, Giulio Pestalozza)

1993 – Jerusalem, Israel (Jacob Sade)

1994 – Rotterdam, The Netherlands (Carel Verwoerd and Jetty Verwoerd-Verhoef).


At the end of the Rotterdam meeting the congress president, Carel Verwoerd, presented to the General Assembly a proposal to transform the Working Group into an official Society with Articles of Association (Bylaws) and this was accepted by acclamation.  The name was changed to the European Society of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology (ESPO).  The Bylaws were ratified by notary in Rotterdam in 1997.  The first official Board of ESPO consisted of Carel Verwoerd, President; Renato Fior, Secretary-General; Cor Cremers, Treasurer; Paul Van Cauwenberge, Past-President; Pekka Karma, President-Elect; Jetty Verwoerd-Verhoef, Member.

ESPO Bylaws

ESPO is a non-profit organisation, exclusively performing charitable, scientific and educational activities.

The main purpose of ESPO (Bylaws article 3) was to promote the quality of otorhinolaryngological care for children by:

– facilitating the dissemination of knowledge

– facilitating scientific communication and collaboration among members and among the different disciplines in the treatment of otorhinolaryngologic disorders in children

– supporting and promoting clinical and basic research

– organising meetings at which those interested in pediatric ORL could discuss clinical practice and present research papers

– promoting standards of professional practice

– promoting the training of otorhinolaryngologists who are concerned with the care of children.

The Council is the governing body of ESPO (Bylaws article 12).  Members are proposed by national ORL or Pediatric ORL societies in Europe.  Countries outside Europe may be represented in the Council by liaison delegates.  The first delegates appointed were Robin Cotton (USA), Kimitaka Kaga (Japan), Ajay Kothari (India) and Tania Sih (Brazil).

In 2006 minor changes were made to the Bylaws and most importantly the original distinction between minor conferences and major congresses (held alternately) was abolished.

ESPO Congresses

After 1994 conferences and congresses were held in:

1996 – Siena, Italy (Desiderio Passali, Luisa Bellussi)

1998 – Helsinki, Finland (Pekka Karma)

2001 – Graz, Austria (Heinz Stammberger)

2002 – Oxford, UK (John Graham, Chris Raine, Martin Bailey)

2004 – Athens, Greece (Nikola Simasko, Thomas Nikolopoulos)

2006 – Paris, France (Noël Garabédian, Jean-Michel Triglia, Patrick Froehlich, Françoise Denoyelle)

2008 – Budapest, Hungary (Gabor Katona, Zoltan Farkas)

2010 – Pamplona, Spain (Javier Cervera, Manuel Manrique)

2012 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Anne Schilder, Hans Hoeve, Maroeska Rovers)

2014 – Dublin, Ireland (John Russell)

2016 – Lisbon, Portugal (Jorge Spratley, Luisa Monteiro)

2018 – Stockholm, Sweden (Ann Hermansson, Georgios Papatziamos, Richard Kuylenstierna)

2021 – Marseille, France – Virtual Congress (Jean-Michel Triglia, Richard Nicollas)

2023 – Liverpool, UK (Ray Clarke, Sujata De)

The number of conference participants has steadily increased from around 70 in 1984 (Sevres/Paris) to more than 1600 at the 2016 and 2018 congresses in Lisbon and Stockholm!

ESPO membership

Otorhinolaryngologists, other medical specialists and non-medically qualified professionals  with a special interest in otorhinological care for children are eligible for membership and are most welcome  to participate in Congresses, meetings  and  training programmes.