Obituary: Professor Tetsuo Kanno


6th August 2021

Obituary. Tetsuo Kanno, PhD, 1940–2021

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno, the founding President of the Asian Congress of Neurological Surgeons (ACNS) and one of the most respectful, humble, outstanding and leading neurosurgeons in the world. Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno died peacefully on 6th August 2021 at 5.12 am Japan Standard Time, at 81 years old due to heart ailment. Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno was my superior, my mentor, exemplary role model to many young neurosurgeons, a visionary leader and loyal friend. His philosophy and teachings have left an indelible impression on many of us for years to come.

Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno was born on 9th April, 1940, in the Mie Prefecture, prefecture of Japan located in the Kansai region of Honshu. He was graduated from the Keio University, Tokyo, Japan in 1965. He joined the Department of Neurosurgery, Keio University in 1966 till 1972. During his neurosurgery training, he was awarded the Keio medical prize for his research in malignant glioma. He founded the Department of Neurosurgery at the Fujita Health University (FHU), Nagoya, Japan in 1972 and he was appointed as the Chief of Neurosurgery. He passed his Neurosurgical Society of Japan board examination in 1974. In 1974, he was awarded Keio surgical prize for his research in malignant brain tumors. He started the neurosurgical residency program at the FHU in 1978.

At the distinguished FHU, Nagoya, Japan, Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno organised the 21st Japanese Conference on Surgery for cerebral stroke as the organizing chairman in 1992. In 1993, he was appointed as the Head of Rescue Center, Fujita Health University. He was also visiting Professor of Neurosurgery in many eminent universities, namely Suzhou Meidcal College (China), Padjadjaran University (Indonesia), Madrel Medical College (India), Barrow Neurological Institute (USA) and Sri Ramachandra Medical University (India). He was bestowed the title of Professor Emeritus from Japan and other international institutions namely Sri Ramachandra Medical University (India), Suzhou Medical College (China) and Nanjing University and Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital (China). He has trained more than 275 young neurosurgeons at FHU, Nagoya, Japan. Besides training neurosurgeons, he also have established training program among the neurosurgical nurses. In his personal series (1960-2007), he has performed more than 4,500 surgeries (2461 brain tumor surgeries, 1078 microvascular decompression, 89 cerebral aneurysms, 10 STA-MCA bypasses, 102 paediatric neurosurgeries, 209 dorsal column surgeries, and more than 200 intracerebral haemorrhage and more than 400 trauma neurosurgeries). 

During his esteemed career, Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno held many prominent positions within the primary professional academic societies in neurosurgery. In 1990, he once stated his observation of rare opportunities for young neurosurgeons from Asia to join international neurosurgical meetings due to the unbearable financial difficulties. His shared his vision and mission to enhance neurosurgical education among young neurosurgeons. With much efforts and perseverance, Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno founded the Asian Congress of Neurosurgical Surgeons (ACNS) in 1993 and successfully held its inaugural meeting held in Nagoya, Japan, the first international neurosurgical meeting for young Asian neurosurgeons in Japan. With the strong support from Toyota Corporation, the fully sponsored meeting covering the travel fees and accommodations, benefited to approximately 100 young neurosurgeons from Asian countries. They attended lectures by many eminent neurosurgeons from Western and Asian countries and enjoyed social interactions with all the speakers.  Since then, more such meetings were held in many other countries, namely Pakistan (1996), Japan (1997, 2000), Hong Kong (2002), Indonesia (2004), India (2006), China (2008), Malaysia (2010), Turkey (2012), Kazakhstan (2014), Indonesia (2016), United Arab Emirates (2018). More than 4000 neurosurgeons have participated with 100 sponsored participations among young neurosurgeons during each of the meetings. He entrusted the current President of the ACNS, Professor Yoko Kato who has been leading the organization he established more than 28 years ago. 

In the year 1993, he was also held the position as chairman of the 2nd Congress for the prolonged coma and chairman of the 6th Japanese Congress for the skull base surgery in 1994. He was appointed as the Chief Editor of Journal of Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery in the same year. He was also the organising chairman of many other meetings namely Intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) (1995), the Case Study in Neurosurgery (1996 and 1997), Nanjing Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) Symposium (1998), the 8th Annual meeting of the Japanese Society for Computer in Neurosurgery (1999) and the 3rd Annual meeting of Japanese Association of brain hypothermia (2000).   

In November 2007, Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno organised the 13th Interim Meeting of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies which was held in Nagoya, Japan as the organizing chairman. Nearly 3,000 neurosurgeons participated in the meeting. He was conferred the Honorary President of World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) during the 14th Interim Meeting of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies was held in Recife, Brazil in September 2011. He was the Honorary President of the Academy for Multidisciplinary Neurotraumatology (AMN). He was also active member of the Joint Section on Cerebrovascular Surgery of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), International Associate Member of AANS, member of North American Skull Base Society, Honourable member of Indian Neurosurgical Society, member of the Editorial Board of the Neuroscience Foundation Charitable Trust and  Treasurer of Academia Eurasiana Neurochirurgica. He has also contributed immensely in the following establishments namely the Society for Treatment of Coma (STC), the Japanese Congress for Brain Hemorrhage Research, the Japanese Congress for Brain Tumor Surgery (1996), the Case Study in Neurosurgery and  the Asian Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the Asian Women's Neurosurgical Association (AWNA). He has also contributed in the Japan International Medical Cooperation Organization (JIMCO) in 2012 to support for the medical development mainly in Asia.

Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno was the recipient of the Founder's Laurel by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), USA in 2007, presented by Professor Nelson M. Oyesiku. He was awarded life time achievement award by the ACNS in 2016 during the 11th ACNS in Surabaya Indonesia. He received the award from Professor Soetomo. He was conferred Honorary Doctorate by the Senate of the University of Warmia and Mazury, Poland in 2017 in recognition of his contributions in the development of an innovative method of waking coma patients by stimulating of the upper parts of the spinal cord, which was first applied in the early 21st century in Japan, and his vast contributions in the development of modern neurosurgery in Asia with Fujita Health University being the centre for teaching and educating young scientists and professionals dealing with nervous system surgery. Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno has contributed immensely in the neurosurgical academic fields with over 130 journal publications and book chapters in and beyond 1,000 citations under his name. He established the Asian Journal of Neurosurgery (AJNS), indexed in MEDLINE with the first online version with its fifth volume in 2010. The editorial of the volume 5, issue 1 (2010) was written by Emeritus Professor Madjid Samii. He expressed his appreciation to all neurosurgeons who have created and pioneered the journal, particularly Prof. Tetsuo Kanno and Prof. Yoko Kato as well as their collaborators. He wished further success for the development of the AJNS and hoped that this Journal will be well-received and supported by all neurosurgeons in Asia. Other notable editorials in the AJNS including on “The success of the AJNS” by Professor Edward R Laws, “New vistas in neurosurgery: A look to the horizon” by Professor James T Rutka and “Applause and Congratulations” by Professor Albert L. Rhoton. Today, AJNS is the top 20 neurosurgical journals with h5-index (2016-2020) of 18, h5-median of 24, with 16 volumes published, 4 issues in a year and more than 1500 manuscripts. In 2015, Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno was one of the recipients of special award from Japanese Emperor in 2015 for his contributions in the international activity for the medical development particularly in Asia.

He wrote in the WFNS newsletter on 24th May 2017 on his lifelong experience dedicated to the training of young neurosurgeons from Asia and beyond.  He wrote regarding his personal experiences. He said “In my thirties, I was working very hard, doing surgeries, and I wanted to present cases at conferences and publish papers. During my forties, I started to think about the outcome of my surgeries. In my fifties, I started to bring excellence in the treatment of my patients and the surgical outcomes, sheerness in total tumor removal and heroic skull base surgeries. In my sixties, I focused more on the happiness of the patient and their families and I restricted myself from carrying out some of the procedures. The patient has a family who is also very disturbed, and the family should be handled with as much care as the patient.” According to the Editor of the newsletter, Professor Russell Andrews, he stated that “It is likely that Prof Kanno has done more than any other neurosurgeon to champion the education of neurosurgeons from the developing world”.

Emeritus Professor Tetsuo Kanno’s accomplishments, legacy, and perseverance in the field of neurosurgery inspired many of us. His philosophy regarding life and neurosurgery have been guiding many of us in our daily practices.   There are so many within our society, and beyond, who will consider themselves privileged to be counted among his students, friends and colleagues. He will always be in our hearts." Our sympathy and prayers go out to his family members, and all those who were close to him.


bangladesh003 bangladesh002
bangladesh004 bangladesh005




IMG_0574 IMG_0578
IMG_0564 IMG_0578

6th ACNS in India in 2006




WNS 24 India2-2-02

Lifetime Achievement Award to Prof. Tetsuo Kanno from Indonesian
Society of Neurological Surgeons 2016


Lifetime Achievement Award to Prof. Tetsuo Kanno from Indonesian
Society of Neurological Surgeons 2016


Lifetime Achievement Award to Prof. Tetsuo Kanno from Indonesian
Society of Neurological Surgeons 2016


Yours truly,


Professor Yoko Kato
President, Asian Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Chair, Education and Training Committee of the WFNS
First Chair, WFNS Women in Neurosurgery (WIN)
Executive Board Member, WFNS Foundation
Professor, Dept. of Neurosurgery, Fujita Health University, Japan


April 2024