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Ton That Tung's Livers

Helling, Thomas S. MD*; Azoulay, Daniel MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000000370
Surgical Retrospection

Born in the early 20th century, the Vietnamese surgeon Ton That Tung received his medical education in French colonial Indochina at the fledgling l'Ecole de Médecine de Hanoi, the first indigenous medical school in Southeast Asia. The benefactor of a postgraduate position at the medical school, Ton That Tung subsequently obtained his surgical training at the Phù Doãn Hospital in Hanoi and concurrently developed a passion for the study of liver anatomy, pathology, and surgery. His contributions to an understanding of liver anatomy based on meticulous dissection of autopsy specimens antedated and rivaled later work by the famous Western anatomists Couinaud, Healey, Schroy, and others. Ton That Tung's contributions, however, were overshadowed by the intense national struggles of the Vietnamese to establish independent rule and self-governance from the French and by eventual alignment with eastern bloc Communist countries, thus isolating much of his work behind the “Iron Curtain” until well after the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, Ton That Tung remains a pioneer in liver anatomy and liver surgery. His commitment to surgical science and, more importantly, to the Vietnamese people stands as a tribute to the tireless pursuit of his ideals.

Ton That Tung has been recognized as the father of Vietnamese surgery. This was, in part, due to his interest in and contributions toward an understanding of liver anatomy and liver surgery. Importantly, he based his surgical approach to liver resection first and foremost on a thorough understanding of liver anatomy.

*Department of Surgery, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson

Hepato-Biliary and Liver Transplant Center, Hôpital Henri Mondor, Créteil, France.

Reprints: Thomas S. Helling, MD, Department of Surgery, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 N State St, Jackson, MS 39216. E-mail:

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflicts of interest. There was no funding obtained for this project.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.