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Sandra L Ettema, MD, PhD, CCC/SLP

Assistant Professor
Department Co-Chair
Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery


Dr. Sandra Ettema, Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgeryof Surgery, specializes in laryngology which focuses on treating disorders of the larynx and voice.  She is the Director of the Voice, Airway and Swallowing Clinic at SIU and treats both adult and pediatric patients.  She particularly enjoys treating pediatric patients with swallowing problems and head and neck cancer patients who have swallowing and voice problems after their treatment.  Her other clinical interests focus on treating patients with sleep apnea and sleep disorders, tracheostomy cares, and speech/voice disorders with children who have a history of cleft lip and/or palate.

She graduated with honors with a degree in speech and hearing science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Dr. Ettema continued her studies at the University of Illinois, completing both a Master’s Degree and PhD in speech and hearing science while simultaneously completing her MD through the Medical Scholars Program.  She then attended the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and completed her residency in otolaryngology in 2007.  She ultimately completed a fellowship in laryngology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine under the direction of Gayle Woodson, MD.

Prior to completing her medical training, Dr. Ettema was an instructor and research assistant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science. Dr. Ettema also has extensive experience as a speech-language pathologist prior to her medical training in which she treated patients with speech, swallowing, and voice disorders at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Nevada-Las Vegas as well as treating head and neck cancer patients requiring a laryngeal speech rehabilitation.  She continues to incorporate and work with speech language pathologists and other allied health professionals in both her voice and swallowing clinics to achieve a more holistic approach to treatment with her patients.


Listen to Dr. Ettema talk more about her swallowing clinics.

Research Interests/Projects

  • Voice Disorders and Laryngology
  • Pediatric & Adult Swallowing Disorders
  • Pediatric & Adult Airway Disorders:    
    • Airway stenosis
    • Chronic cough
    • Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis
    • Laryngomalacia
    • Laryngeal cleft 
  • Sleep Disorders and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Quality of life and care of the patient with tracheostomy tubes.
  • Treatment of children with voice/speech disorders with history of cleft lip and/or palate


“A Single Center Prospective Review of Endoscopic Repair of Laryngeal Cleft Outcomes”

Principal Investigator:  Sandra Ettema, MD, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL

Laryngeal cleft is a rare congenital malformation occurring in a small percentage of the pediatric population.  Few institutions have extensive experience successfully treating this condition.  Patients often present with a wide array of symptoms including cough, aspiration, stridor, and respiratory distress all varying in severity.  Diagnosis and treatment is highly reliant on endoscopic evaluation and treatment options include endoscopic repair via laser or cold steel surgical repair, injection and medical therapy. Dr. Ettema’s investigation/research project compares historical features, physical examination findings, comorbidities, clinical outcomes, and cost-effectiveness for patients with a diagnosis of laryngeal cleft.



Medical School: 
Medical Scholars Program (MD/PhD): University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, IL – PhD Speech & Hearing Science
Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI - Otolaryngology Residency and General Surgery Internship
SIU School of Medicine, Springfield, IL - Laryngology


Alcon Clinical Studies EXE844b-C001/C002, “Safety and Efficacy of EXE844 Otic Suspension in the Treatment of otitis Media at Time of Tympanostomy Tube Insertion (OMTT) - Multicenter, prospective, randomized, observer-masked, active-acontrolled, 3-arm, parallel-group study, Principal Investigator, 2014-2016 - Completed.