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Monday, November 7, 2022

First total laryngectomy by Theodor Billroth 150 years ago.


On December 31, 1873, in the Vienna surgery clinic, the German surgeon Theodor Billroth managed what no previous surgeon had been able to: complete ablation of the larynx in a human being, which quickly came to be known as “total laryngectomy”, without harmful immediate consequences. Billroth dared what none before had done. He had come to the conclusion that “the only way of saving life was to remove the entire larynx.”

This first total ablation of the larynx, preceded by a tracheotomy, was one of the great surprises of 19th century surgery.

This was possible because of the prior experimental study of laryngeal ablation performed in dogs by Vincent Czerny. The French physician Henri Chouppe enthused: “when experimental studies lead to practical results, one should hasten to do It”.

    Theodor Billroth operating 

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