Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov: the past, present and future of Russian surgery.

  • Authors: Popova A.1, Ostroushko A.P.2, Andreev A.A3
  • Affiliations:
    1. Воронежский государственный медицинский университет имени Н. Н. Бурденко
    2. N. N. Burdenko Voronezh State Medical University
    3. Воронежский государственный медицинский университет им. Н.Н.Бурденко
  • Issue: Vol 10, No 1 (2021): Материалы XIV Международного хирургического форума «ИННОВАЦИОННЫЕ ТЕХНОЛОГИИ В ХИРУРГИИ»
  • Pages: 25-26
  • Section: Хирургические дисциплины
  • URL:

Cite item


The works of N. I. Pirogov covered a wide range of the most important issues of practical medicine: infectious diseases and methods related to the fight against them, asepsis, antiseptics, sorting of the wounded during the war, surgical interventions. He paid great attention to the development of practical skills of doctors. N. I. Pirogov-the creator of topographic (surgical) anatomy, a clinical practitioner and theorist.

Full Text

In 1810, on November 13(25), in the city of Moscow, in a large family of a military official, Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov was born. By the age of eleven, he had reached a high level of education for his age, having graduated from a boarding school in Moscow. Nikolai Pirogov was admitted to the Medical Faculty of Moscow University in 1824.
On the basis of the university, an anatomical theater was organized, where students were given the opportunity to earn extra money. While practicing there, young Pirogov gained invaluable experience and surgical skills.
In 1828, Nikolai Ivanovich received the title of doctor. Without stopping there, Pirogov goes abroad, to the city of Dorpat to receive a professorship. On the basis of the best medical university at that time - Dorpat, he practiced under the guidance of Professor Ivan Filippovich Moyer in such areas as anatomy and surgery. At the Dorpat Surgical Clinic, Nikolai Pirogov defends his dissertation, becoming a professor of surgery at the age of 26. In his scientific work, he examines the issues of cardiology that are relevant in our time: the location of the abdominal aorta in humans, circulatory disorders during its ligation, the path of blood circulation in its obstruction, the causes of postoperative complications. After studying the scientific work, the German clinic "Charite" and the hospital of Göttingen offer their cooperation. Later, while in Riga, Pirogov demonstrated his teaching skills for the first time, operated for the first time as a teacher.
In Dorpat, Nikolai Ivanovich finishes his essay "Surgical anatomy of arterial trunks and fascia", marking the beginning of surgical anatomy. Prior to Pirogov's work, the study of the fascia of the body was not paid attention, was not given importance. Thanks to these discoveries, modern surgeons use the best ways to perform operations with minimal muscle damage.
In 1841, Nikolai Ivanovich came to St. Petersburg. Working in the hospital, he sees that patients die from infection, from suppuration. For the first time in the history of surgery, he introduced the method of isolation of purulent and” clean " patients, the technique of hand washing, disinfection of the operating field and wounds.
On February 14, 1846, Nikolai Ivanovich performed an operation under ether anesthesia. Of course, an important discovery was the plaster cast of patients. Before Nikolai Ivanovich, no one fixed the limb with plaster bandages.
Pirogov's discovery was "ice anatomy" - the technique of sawing frozen body parts, in order to study the topography of anatomical structures and landmarks. As a result of his research, he created the atlas "Topographic Anatomy", illustrated with sections drawn through the frozen human body in three directions.
In 1853, the Crimean War begins, the surgeon was convinced that he needed to go to the scene of hostilities and save people's lives. During the war, he developed a system of amputation of limbs, a system of sorting the wounded. Nikolai Pirogov was at the origin of nursing-women's care for the wounded during the war.
After the end of the Crimean War, Pirogov returned to St. Petersburg, where he worked until 1861, after which he was dismissed from the service of the sovereign. Pirogov was fired at the age of fifty.
At the age of seventy, the professor became seriously ill. In the summer of 1881, he died in his estate Vishnya, near the city of Vinnytsia. His body was embalmed and placed in a crypt. After Pirogov's death, the Society of Russian Doctors was founded in his memory, which regularly convened Pirogov congresses. The memory of the great surgeon is still preserved today. Every year, on his birthday, a prize and medal are awarded in his name for achievements in the field of anatomy and surgery. Pirogov's name is given to the 2nd Moscow, Odessa and Vinnytsia medical Institutes.


About the authors

Alina Popova

Воронежский государственный медицинский университет имени Н. Н. Бурденко

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2645-8170
SPIN-code: 7470-1937


Russian Federation, 394036, Россия, Воронеж, ул.Студенческая,10.

Anton Petrovich Ostroushko

N. N. Burdenko Voronezh State Medical University

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3656-5954

associate Professor of General surgery

Russian Federation, Voronezh, Russia

Alexander A Andreev

Воронежский государственный медицинский университет им. Н.Н.Бурденко

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5242-6105
SPIN-code: 1394-5147

д.м.н., профессор кафедры общей хирургии

Russian Federation, г. Воронеж, ул. Студенческая, 10


  1. Н.Н. Бурденко, Н.И. Пирогов – основоположник военно-полевой хирургии. Начал общей военно-полевой хирургии, ч.1, 1980 год.
  2. С.Д. Штрайх, Комментарии к "Севастопольским письмам и воспоминаниями Н.И. Пирогова", Издательство Академии наук СССР, 1950 год, стр. 551
  3. Н.И. Пирогов, Начала общей военно-полевой хирургии, часть 2, 1944 год. Стр. 456-457

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies