History of Thoracic Surgery in Iran


1 Department of Thoracic Surgery,

2 Tracheal Disease Research Center,

3 Lung Transplantation Research Center, NRITLD, Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, TEHRAN-IRAN.


The field of thoracic surgery is a postgraduate sub-specialty of general surgery and has developed considerably in Iran during the recent decades. Nowadays, thoracic surgery procedures are performed by specialists who have been trained specifically in this field and the quality of care given is in line with international standards. This paper addresses the history of thoracic surgery in Iran. Data were collected through interview of professors, review of archives and personal albums and data present in the council of medical education. Almost 80 years ago, general surgeons used to perform thoracic surgical procedures. But closed-circuit anesthesia was not prevalent in Iran until 1940 and there was no training available in the country for thoracic surgeons. Antibiotics were not available and surgeons were not acquainted with new methods to evacuate the pleural space (chest tube and under water seal drainage). The only procedures performed were limited to management of emergencies, trauma and abscess drainage. Surgical intervention for treatment of tuberculosis in some patients was one of the factors responsible for development of this field of surgery. General surgeons trained abroad that came back to Iran were familiar with the principles of thoracic surgery and would perform it. In some army medical centers and some centers affiliated to foreign countries, thoracic surgeries were performed by Iranian or foreign physicians. Professor Yahya Adl used to perform thoracic surgeries and taught it to his residents. In 1951, Dr. Sadegh Ghazi and shortly after, Dr. Anwar Shakki started operations in Bou-Ali and Abo-Hossein Hospitals at the request of the TB charity foundation. They were the pioneers who started to perform TB, lung and thoracic surgeries. They were educated in France. The period of 1951-1961 can be considered as the initiation period of thoracic surgery as a subspecialty in Iran. Afterwards, this field was extended to the Masih Daneshvari, Sorkheh Hesar and army medical centers. In early 1950, cardiac and vascular surgeon graduates from the USA and other countries who had returned home established the field of thoracic surgery at Tehran University and other universities. Thus, official training in this field was started. In 1984, thoracic surgery became a postgraduate sub- specialty field approved by the medical education council. Thus far, over 80 physicians have graduated in this field most of which are working in academic fields throughout the country. Tehran, Shaheed Beheshti and Tabriz Universities of Medical Sciences have departments approved for training thoracic surgery fellows. In many universities and several medical centers, trained surgeons have established thoracic surgery wards and are working in this field. (Tanaffos 2007; 6(2): 80-91)