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Asia’s first neurosurgeon teaches art of multi-tasking

Published Dec 30, 2013, 3:31 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 3:36 am IST
Dr Kanaka keeps herself busy throughout the day from arranging yoga classes, seminars and more.
Dr T. S. Kanaka.
 Dr T. S. Kanaka.

Chennai: The art of multi-tasking could well be learnt from the octogenarian Dr T.S Kanaka, who is the first lady neurosurgeon not just in Chennai, but also in Asia.

From arranging yoga classes, seminars on virtual reality medicine, to consulting and helping those who seek her opinion, Dr. Kanaka keeps herself busy throughout the day.


When general surgery was the monopoly of men, she managed to sail through the first hurdle in a male bastion. Even after joining MS, she was not allowed to watch emergencies and her teacher was unwilling to give her an opportunity to use the scalpel.

“After completing MS general surgery in 1963, I went to serve the army as an emergency commissioned officer- surgical specialist, but I could not continue due to illness. I came back to the MMC to join the neurosurgical unit. Even as a medical student, I always wanted to pursue neurosurgery and I used to assist in OP for neurosurgeon Dr. Ramamoorthy,” recalls Dr. Kanaka at her residence and clinic in Chromepet.

In the late 1970s and 80s, she attended numerous international conferences and presented papers.

“I made sure that I was available at the hospital throughout for trauma and emergency care,” says the neurosurgeon, who made MMC her home till 1990.

As she never did private practice, soon after retirement, she started the Sri Santhanakrishna Padvamathi Health, Care and Research Foundation, named after her parents in Chromepet.

Some of the services of the foundation include yoga, free medical check-up, and acupuncture. “Everything is free of cost. I expect more youngsters to visit us as today they undergo stress-related problems and refuse to think that they are future senior citizens,” she says.

Hailing her work, Dr. V. Kanagasabai, dean of MMC says that in earlier days, lady surgeons were rare.

“She is the first lady neurosurgeon. She was a good academician and clinician during her tenure in the MMC and guided many PhD students. She was available always at the hospital and easily approachable. Even at this age, she attends orations at MMC and takes notes. She is the role model for young doctors,” he said.

Location: Tamil Nadu