Medical journals had always an important place among the Romanian scientific publications, due to the quality of published papers. It was Thoma Ionescu, Director of The Institute of Topographic Anatomy at the University of Medicine of Bucharest and Professor of Surgery at Coltea Hospital, who founded in 1897 “Chirurgia” – “Romanian Journal of Surgery” and the journal of the Romanian Society of Surgery, .
The first issue of the journal appeared in April 1897, with Th. Ionescu as Chief Editor and Ernest Juvara – Co-Editor. Illustrious surgical personalities from that period were members of the Editorial Board: Constantin Angelescu, Gheorghe Assaky, Nicolae Bardescu, Ion Balacescu, I.Botez (Iassy), Dimitrie Gerota, Nicolae Leonte, Nicolae Manolescu, Constantin Patrascu, Constantin Dumitrescu-Severeanu, and also surgeons from Bucharest hospitals and other Romanian cities: P.L.Bothezat (Bârlad), N.Duma (Bucharest), I.Goilav, G.Iovitz (Braila), A.Kolinski (Galati), Stefan Possa (Iassy), I.Potârca (Bucharest) and Nicolae Racoviceanu-Pitesti.
The first article belonged to Th. Ionescu : “Abdominal castration for utero-adnexial lesions - celio-hystero-salpingo-oophorectomy”.
Since the beginning, the journal had a monthly appearance, offering both general informations as well as original papers, mainly from Romanian authors, but also contributions from abroad. In the journal one could find editorials, original papers, clinical cases and studies, operative techniques, papers from foreign surgical journals, comments to the presentations from the meetings of the Surgical Society of Bucharest and other Scientific Societies, as well as records of the Student’s Society of Medicine. This structure of the journal was respected during all the period. Here are some of the titles:
• Modified Bassini operation in the radical treatment of inguinal hernias - E. Juvara
• A new autoplastic procedure in the treatment of urinary bladder extrophy - N. Racoviceanu-Pitesti
• Anestesia in the surgery of upper respiratory tract - T. Nasta and P. Wachmann
• Asepsia and antisepsia - I. Goilav and V. Pandele
• Primary cancer of the scalp with paradoxical metastases - V. Gomoiu and T. Vasiliu
• A new autoplastic operation: modified J.L. Faure operation - Z. Samfirescu
All these achievements were possible by the effort of its founder who chaired it for over a quarter of a century and who preserved its structure, knew how to select and cultivate famous surgeons as leaders of the journal.
It should be emphasized the elevated scientific quality of the published papers, with regard to the development of surgery during that time and the high graphical aspect of the journal.
Until 1909, the journal was published on a monthly basis. Starting with that year, due to the financial problems (lack of financing from the “Institute of Surgery” and an insufficient membership fee) the journal’s activity discontinued for 3 years.
A group of young surgeons (Constantin Angelescu, Victor Gomoiu and Iacob Iacobovici) succeeded in April 1913 to resume the journal’s activity, with Th. Ionescu as Chief Editor and V. Gomoiu and I. Iacobovici as Assistant Editors. They managed to support the bi-monthly appearance of the journal until December 1916, when all medical journals were suspended during the 1st World War.
In 1921 the journal resumed its activity, together with the Bulletin of the Surgical Society of Bucharest. By that time, a Scientific Board under the leadership of Th. Ionescu directed the journal.
Following the death of Th. Ionescu, in 1926, the journal was directed by I. Balacescu and N. Gheorghiu, with A. Cosacescu, V. Savescu, I. Marian and M. Georgescu as Assistant Editors, then by a Scientific Board (C. Angelescu, I. Balacescu, N. Gheorghiu, E. Juvara, A. Jianu and others).
During World War 2, despite all difficulties, the journal continued to be published, playing an important role in the Romanian medical journalism.
In 1949, for the third time, the journal discontinued its activity for 2 years (1949 and 1950), because of the restructuring of the medical societies and publications.
Since 1951 the journal has been published uninterruptedly until now, directed successively by I. Fagarasanu, Th. Firica, Th. Burghele, E. Proca, M. Stancescu, N. Angelescu, I. Popescu, with Assistant Editors C. Ionescu-Bujor, S. Crivda, E. Proca, I. Popescu, R. Palade, C. Vasilescu.
Until 1974, the journal had 12 issues and then 6 issues per year (1975-1989).
Another difficult period was 1990-1994, when there were published only two issues per year, by the efforts of the President and the Secretary General of the Romanian Society of Surgery (Al. Priscu and N. Angelescu, respectively) and with the help of some sponsors.
During the years 1994-1995, the journal issues increased to 4, then to 6, as before 1989.
Because of the multiple discontinuities in the timeline of the journal, the volumes were numbered each time beginning with “1”. That is why, in 1996, the number of the volume was 45, eluding the 46 volumes published before, as was mentioned in 1936 by V. Gomoiu in one of his volumes referring to the “History of medical press in Romania”.
It was a moral duty to repair this prejudice and to attribute the deserved privileges to the journal “Chirurgia”. In 1997, the centennial anniversary of the journal, with Nicolae Angelescu as Chief Editor and Irinel Popescu as Coeditor, the volumes were numbered with 92 (instead of 46), thus restoring the historical truth about the journal’s age.
Despite al difficulties the successive editorial boards succeeded in maintaining the basic structure of the journal and published papers, which had an important impact on the medical formation of many generations of surgeons. The “Romanian Journal of Surgery” had an essential role in the development of surgery in Romania. It is mentioned in international catalogs - “Chirurgia (Bucur.)”, thus contributing to the worldwide recognition of Romanian surgery.