We investigated whether laryngoscopy should be performed before total thyroidectomy on all patients without a history of neck surgery. A total of 2523 patients who underwent total thyroidectomy between January 1, 2013, and March 18, 2018, were retrospectively examined. Preoperative vocal cord examination was performed on 2070 of these patients by the otorhinolaryngology department using indirect laryngoscopy. Patients with a history of neck or thyroid surgery were not included in the study. The patients were evaluated in terms of age, gender, symptom (hoarseness/dyspnea), comorbidity, surgical history, biopsy, nodule diameter, pathological diagnosis, and tracheal deviation. Preoperative vocal cord paralysis was detected in 0.8 per cent of the patients (17/2070). Four patients (23.5%) were male and 13 patients (76.5%) were female. The mean age was 62 (range, 25-82) years. Seven of the 17 patients (41%) were symptomatic, with complaints of dyspnea in five and hoarseness in two. The univariate analysis revealed that a nodule diameter >30 mm and the presence of dyspnea were associated with vocal cord damage. Furthermore, the multivariate analysis showed that dyspnea alone was an independent variable (P = 0.011). It is recommended that preoperative vocal cord evaluation should be performed only in patients with severe symptoms, such as dyspnea.