Nikolay Ivanovich Pirogov (1810 –1881) was a prominent Russian scientist, doctor, pedagogue, public figure, and corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1847). He is considered to be the founder of field surgery, and was one of the first surgeons in Europe to useether as an anaesthetic. He was the first surgeon to use anaesthesia in a field operation (1847), invented various kinds of surgical operations, and developed his own technique of using plaster casts to treat fractured bones. His name is one of the most widely recognised in Russian medical history, and he is considered a Russian national hero.
Pirogov was born in Moscow on 27 of November. The family doctor, Efrem Mukhin, who was a professor of anatomy and physiology at Moscow State University, persuaded the authorities to accept him as a student aged only 14.
Despite limited experience at medical school, Pirogov decided to specialise as a surgeon when he completed his studies in 1828. He completed further studies at Dorpat (now Tartu), receiving a doctorate in 1832 on the ligation of the ventral aorta. He travelled in Germany, visiting the University of Berlin and University of Göttingen, and became a professor at the German University of Dorpat in 1836, aged only 25. He did important work on arteries and fasciae. He moved to take up an appointment as professor of surgery at the academy of military medicine in Saint Petersburg in 1840. He also undertook three years of military service in this period. He first used ether as an anaesthetic in 1847, and investigated cholera from 1848. He compiled his famous anatomical atlas, Topographical anatomy of the human body (vol. 1-4, 1851–1854). He won the Demidov Prize in 1844, 1851 and 1860.
He worked as an army surgeon in the Crimean War, arriving in Simferopol on December 11, 1854. From his works in the Crimea, he is considered to be the father of field surgery. He followed work by Louis Seutin in introducing plaster casts for setting broken bones, and developed a new osteoplastic method for amputation of the foot, known as the "Pirogov amputation". He was also the first to use anesthesia in the field, particularly during the siege of Sevastopol, and he introduced a system of triage into five categories. He encouraged female volunteers as an organized corps of nurses, the Khrestovozvizhenska community of nurses established by Grand Duchess Yelena Pavlovna, echoing the efforts made by Florence Nightingale for the British.
In 1861, he retired to his estate in Vishnya in central Ukraine.
He last appeared in public on 24 May 1881, and died later that year in the village of Vishnya (now Vinnytsia, Ukraine). His body is preserved using embalming techniques he himself developed, and rests in a church in Vinnitsa, Ukraine. Compared to the corpse of Lenin, which undergoes thorough maintenance in a special underground clinic twice a week, the body of Pirogov rests untouched and unchanging: it is said that only dust has to be brushed off of it. It resides at room temperature in a glass-lid coffin (while Lenin's body is preserved at a constant low temperature).