Overview of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Singapore

The first heart surgery performed in Singapore was a closed mitral valvotomy by Dr TA Sale in 1954. Under the leadership of Professor Yeoh Ghim Seng from 1955 to 1962, cardiac surgery continued its early development in the Surgical A Unit of the Singapore General Hospital. Professor Yeoh first performed closed heart surgery in 1959. In 1960, Professor Yeoh and Dr Ben Eismann performed the first open heart operation under hypothermia. The modern era of cardiac surgery began with the acquisition of the heart lung machine at the Singapore General Hospital. Dr Yong Nen Khiong is credited with the first open heart operation using the heart lung machine.


In 1981, the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery returned to the Singapore General Hospital after it was rebuilt. Since then, more than 18,000 open-heart operations have been performed at the Singapore General Hospital.


Great advances were established during this period including the conduct of safe coronary artery bypass graft surgery and paediatric cardiac surgery. The first heart transplantation in Singapore was done in 1990 at the Singapore General Hospital by a team led by Dr Tong Ming Chuan. The first lung transplant was performed in 1995 and the first mechanical cardiac assist device was implanted in the same year.


In 1998, the Ministry of Health set up the Specialist Accreditation Board to recognize training of specialists in their respective fields and pave the way for their registration with the Singapore Medical Council. In 1999, the first Cardiothoracic Surgery exit exams were conducted as a part of this accreditation process. Since 2004, the exit examinations have been conducted in coordination with and under the auspices of the Royal College of Surgeons.



Board Members 2019 - 2021
Rank Name
Chairman Dr Victor Chao Tar Toong
Vice-Chairman Dr Lim Yeong Phang
Honorary Secretary Dr Ong Boon Hean
Members Dr C Sivathasan
  Dr James Wong
  Dr Lim Chong Hee
Co-opted A/Prof Theodoros Kofidis
  Dr Pang Yi Kit Philip


Please click here to view Past Board Members.

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