It has been 100 years since Erwin Payr first developed an operation to improve the effects of a paralysed vocal fold, and operations based on this technique are still in use today. This technique, medialisation thyroplasty, aims to improve the symptoms caused by vocal fold palsy by realigning the lateralised vocal fold into the midline.
Whilst the effects of vocal fold palsy were recognised in antiquity, it was only with the development of indirect laryngoscopy in the late nineteenth century that the vocal fold paralysis could be identified as an aetiology for poor phonation and dysphagia. Payr, in 1915, was the first to perform a recognisable form of medialisation thyroplasty, which was further developed in the early twentieth century, but medialisation thyroplasty did not begin to be widely used until the development of the modern technique by Isshiki et al., in 1974.
Since then, medialisation thyroplasty has continued to be developed and is currently the most widely used technique for correcting the effects of vocal fold palsy. However, a wide array of therapeutic options is now available for vocal fold palsy and it is impossible to say whether or not medialisation thyroplasty will still be used in another 100 years.