The History of Otorhinolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery in Sri Lanka from 1895 to 1972

Until the end of 18th Century Laryngologists were classified as physicians and limited their treatment to the inside of the throat while leaving any external operations to the general surgeons.


1895 April, Grenier Eye and Ear Infirmary commenced work. Dr. W.H. de Silva, F.R.C.S. was appointed as the Medical officer in charge. He was instrumental in obtaining two wards for eye cases which presumably had ear, nose and throat cases as well. He agitated further for a separate hospital for eye and ear work.

1898 Dr. Harvey Hilliard, M.R.C.S. was appointed as the ear surgeon and Dr. H.D. Thomas was asked to do throat work.

1899 Two wards set apart for eye and presumably for ear and nose under Dr. W.H. de Silva

1900 Dr. Murugesar Sinnatamby, F.R.C.S. was appointed ear surgeon.

1903 Lady Ridgeway laid foundation stone for the Victoria Memorial Eye and Ear hospital. It was opened to the public on the 2nd of April 1906. Grenier Eye and Ear Infirmary were shifted to the new hospital.

1908 Sir Arthur Marcellus de Silva was appointed the surgeon for disease of the ear at the Victoria Memorial Eye and Ear hospital.

Sir Nicholas Attygalle the professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology who returned to to Sri Lanka in 1929 with his F.R.C.S. and D.L.O. became the first Sri Lankan to acquire a post graduate diploma in Otology.

May 1st 1932, the Grenier Ear, Nose and throat clinic was transferred from the Victoria Memorial Eye and Ear hospital to the General Hospital under Dr. Kadirgamathamby. He was appointed Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon at the General Hospital of Colombo in 1938.

April 1940, Dr. B.M. Fonseka M.S., F.R.C.S., M.S. (E.N.T.) was appointed Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon General Hospital of Colombo. He was the first Sri Lankan to obtain a higher degree of M.S. in Otology from the London University.

1946, Dr. H.C.P. Goonewardena, F.R.C.S. became the E.N.T. surgeon in the General Hospital. During this time Dr. Szenes from Vienna practised in the General Hospital as an E.N.T. Surgeon.

1949, Dr. R.C.J. Rustomjee F.R.C.S., D.L.O. was appointed to the General Hospital after retirement of Dr. Szenes. He was the first Sri Lankan to pass the fellowship in ear, nose and throat.

1956, Dr. V. Rasanayaram F.R.C.S., D.L.O. was appointed E.N.T. surgeon general hospital after Dr. Goonewardena retired.

1968 Dr. Arulpragasam was appointed E.N.T. surgeon general hospital Colombo and a third post was created to meet the increasing volume of work. This post was filled by Dr. Ananda Soysa.

In 1972 Dr. R.D. Ponniah was appointed as sucession to Dr. Rasanayaram and Dr. R. A. Benjamin succeeded Dr. Ponniah. Dr. R. A. Benjamin was responsible for the formation of the Association of Otolaryngologists.

The E.N.T. unit of the Lady Ridgeway children’s hospital was under Dr. Marzook Cader, M. S. (London) in the 50’s. He was succeeded by Dr. A.P. Sandrasagara, Dr. Mahendran and then by Dr. R. Abeywickreme.