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Table of Contents    
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 213-214

History of Surgery-Milestones and Developments in Surgery in India since Independence

Hospital, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad-500096, India

Date of Web Publication29-Apr-2013

Correspondence Address:
D Raja Reddy
Hospital, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad-500096
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Reddy D R. History of Surgery-Milestones and Developments in Surgery in India since Independence. Neurol India 2013;61:213-4

How to cite this URL:
Reddy D R. History of Surgery-Milestones and Developments in Surgery in India since Independence. Neurol India [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Sep 25];61:213-4. Available from:

Authors: S. P. Kaushik

Publisher: Paras Medical Publishers, Hyderabad, India

Year: 2013, Pages: 173, Price 475


Dr. Kaushik has undertaken a stupendous task of compiling the history of surgery including its many specialties in independent India. In recent years the medical historians have undertaken the study of evolution of some of the proven surgical procedures such as coronary bypass, renal transplantation, hepatic transplantation, etc., and it is mind boggling to attempt the history of the progress of the entire surgical specialty during the past 6-7 decades in India. During this period there was an enormous increase in the number of medical colleges providing graduate as well as postgraduate training. The number of medical colleges increased from 23 at the time of independence to 355 recognized colleges and 78 permitted colleges. Of the 355 colleges providing MBBS training in the country, the government runs only 135 colleges with an annual intake of 20,145 students of the total 44,250 seats. Besides the government and university institutions, private and corporate sectors have entered the medical profession in a big way and have overtaken them in training as well as in managing hospitals . It is no surprise that private institutions have more seats and beds than the government-run institutions. This has become necessary since there is marked increase in the volume of surgical operations because of better safety and ease of surgery and also increase in the number of surgical procedures, more than 2500. For example, in USA 50 million operations are performed annually and at present rate during an individual's lifetime, on an average one would need seven operations. It is obvious that the volume of surgical workforce needed in a country like India is enormous, which needs integrated approach by both the government and corporate set-up.

The book has 19 chapters written by both Indian and foreign contributors. It enumerates the origin of various surgical societies as well as their controlling agencies such as Medical Council of India and the National Board of Examination. The role of missionary hospitals as well as the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, UK in training surgeons from India has been highlighted. The history of development of anesthesia as well as all the surgical specialties including transplantation and minimal access surgery is detailed. A single reviewer would not feel competent to comment on the development of all the surgical specialties and I would confine myself to the advancement in neurosurgery whose growth paralleled those of other super specialties in the country. Dr. Kak has summarized the development of neurosurgery since independence in the country but it would be rewarding to know about early pioneers in neurosurgery in our country. Pioneer general surgeons and physicians managed neurological diseases before the advent of fulltime organized neurosurgical and neurological departments that were established at Vellore in 1949. Neurological society of India (NSI) and Neurology India the official journal of NSI that started in 1950 and 1953, respectively, contributed a great deal for the advancement of clinical neurosciences in our country. But the beginnings of clinical neurosciences commenced before independence in the British military establishment in our country. It was the combined military hospital at Tirumalgiri, which was spelled by British as Trimelgherry in Secunderabad, which witnessed the beginnings of neurological services at Hyderabad, if not in India. Three neurosurgeons who worked at this hospital during 1944-1947 were Richard H. Hannah (1915-2000), Eric A. Turner, and John McEwen Potter (1920-2002) and the neurologist during this period was Kenneth W. G. Heathfield. All of them moved to England after our independence and they made a remarkable contribution to neurology and neurosurgery in that country. Truly they were the first fulltime neurological consultants in our country and they were sent to India with the Royal Army Medical Corps. All of their services were sought after not only by the military establishment where they worked but also by the civil population in Hyderabad, India and even in neighboring countries.

It is indeed remarkable that India progressed in surgical training and providing excellent facilities to attract medical tourism from even developed countries. The role of great pioneers in each specialty and the great institutions, both governmental and corporate need appreciation and these are enumerated in the book. It has become necessary now to regulate quality of surgical services provided in the country, which varies a great deal. One might follow the practice of USA in making consultants in neurosurgery to take the board examination once every 10 years so that those practicing the specialty are up today in their surgical knowledge. Second system that can be followed is which is being implemented in Australia by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, which checks the surgical outcomes of every 10 th fellow of the college. If the fellow is found defective, he is either advised to undergo short training to improve his deficiencies or asked to stop practice.

The book is the product of research by scholars in each branch of surgery and is highly commendable and should be made available to every practicing surgeon and those who are planning a career in surgery. This would be a basic guide book for further study and each specialty can be expanded and improved upon. For a very great effort put out by individual contributors, absence of bibliography appears to be a lacuna, which could be corrected in future revisions of the book.


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