A proposal was made in 1980 to establish a Department of Gastrointestinal (GI) Surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. This department would perform only complicated GI operations which were not
usually done elsewhere in the country, train surgeons from other parts of the country and do research into Indian GI surgical problems. The department was created as a unit of the Department of Surgery in May 1985.
In September 1989 it was given full departmental status. The department is now established and has trained a large number of surgeons to set up GI surgical departments in India and abroad. In pursuance of the objectives
of the department an MCh course was started in 1994 and in 1997 the first batch completed their course. The main fields of specialization of the department are portal hypertension, hepato-pancreato-biliary diseases,
hepatic venous outflow obstruction, ulcerative colitis, gastrointestinal haemorrhage and oesophageal diseases and liver transplantation. Its main thrust is on providing a high quality of patient care, training of residents, good record keeping, research publications and research into Indian diseases. The department has its own 8 bed intensive care unit (ICU) with ventilators, cardiac monitors, blood gas and electrolyte management facility. All patient records are computerized. The department faculty are actively involved in the publication of 'The National Medical Journal of India', ‘Tropical Gastroenterology' both of which are indexed journals and the ‘GI Surgery Annual' which is in its twelfth year of publication.
In 1990 it was felt that the field of liver transplantation should be developed by the department. This required the law on brain death to be amended. The Department took a lead in this field and in 1994 The Transplantation of Human Organs Act was passed by the Indian Parliament. Following this attempts are in progress to establish a liver transplant program in India.
Apart from other activities, the department has developed indigenous medical equipment. An anorectal manometric system to evaluate anorectal function has been succesfully developed and is being comercially marketed.
Oesophageal manometry and continuous pH monitoring systems to diagnose gastro-oesophageal reflux disease have been developed and technology transfer of this equipment is in progress. The department has also developed a rapid blood and fluid infusion system and is currently working on a cheap low flow infusion system. A peritoneovenous shunt, has been successfully devised and marketed.
So far more than 100 surgeons have received either short or long term training in the department. Six candidates have been awarded Ph.D. degrees and 34 candidates have been awarded the M.Ch. degree in Gastrointestinal surgery. The Department has pioneered the establishment of a new surgical superspeciality in India the need for which is being realised Nation wide in both the private and public sectors. We strive hard to ensure that the department continues to serve as a role model in this field.