In India, the concept of “Neuroanaesthesia as a subspeciality” of Anaesthesia was recognized, way back in 1968, when Dr. Surinder Singh Saini volunteered to anaesthetize the neurosurgical patients at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, on a regular basis. Formal training in Neuroanaesthesia, for post-graduate degree holders (MD) of Anaesthesia, for trainees from all over India, was started in 1982. In 1987, an independent Department of Neuroanaesthesia was established under the leadership of Prof. S S Saini as the Head along with two more faculties, Dr. Hari Hara Dash as Assistant Professor and Dr. Parmod Kumar Bithal as Lecturer. Five Senior Resident (SR) doctors joined them for assisting the clinical activities of the department.
In August 1989, the Department was shifted to the newly built the Cardiothoracic and Neurosciences Centre (CNC) of AIIMS (present location) along with other sister departments. Facilities during that time included three well-equipped operation theatres (OTs), one emergency (septic) OT, which was shared with the cardiothoracic centre, five-bedded intensive care unit (ICU), and twenty beds for postoperative patients.
In 1995, a process to start three years superspeciality degree course (DM) in Neuroanaesthesiology was initiated under stewardship of Prof. H. H. Dash. It was materialized in 2001, when DM (SR) posts (Six direct and three sponsored) were sanctioned by the Institute body. In 2002, two direct candidates were enrolled, for the first time in India, through a common entrance test. After the JPNA Trauma Centre was established by AIIMS, in 2006, 10 more post of non-DM SR was added to the existing 10 posts. In the subsequent year (2007), two more posts of SR (DM) were again sanctioned making the final tally of open category DM (SR) seats as eight. At present, the department is located in the Neurosciences Centre, at 6/7th floor, with the office operated from room no. 709A. One personal assistant and two office assistants look after the smooth management official activities.
Currently, the Department of Neuroanaesthesiology has expanded its horizon; caters clinical service to six well-equipped neurosurgical OTs, a brain suite (MRI- OT), two neuro-cath Labs, two MRI facilities, One GammaKnife facility, one pain clinic, a pre-anaesthetic check-up (PAC) clinic, two neurosurgical ICUs (total 26 beds), one neurology ICU of five beds, more than two OTs for trauma patients, a twenty-bedded ICU for neurotrauma patients apart from providing resuscitation measures for neurological and neurosurgical ward patients. To meet with the demand of workload, the faculty strength now has been increased to sixteen which includes two professors, four additional professors, and ten assistant professors.
This department has been actively involved with training of Indian defense service personnel and overseas trainees apart from the DM and Non-DM trainees (SRs) of Neuroanaesthesia. So far, 25 candidates have been awarded the DM degree in Neuroanaesthesiology. The department plans to start Neurocritical Care programme in coming years, and to establish this super-speciality in India, the need for which is being realized, nation-wide. The faculty and staff of this department strive hard to ensure that the ‘Department of Neuroanaesthesiology’ continues to be the torch-bearer of perioperative neurosciences, and serve as a role model in this field.