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Arnold Maran: otolaryngologist who became known as the “Voice Doctor”

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 12 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k437
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Arnold Maran will be remembered by many as the “Voice Doctor,” a moniker he earnt for his work optimising the vocal chords of singers and actors—and also of former president of Iraq Saddam Hussein. Maran liked the moniker so much that he used it in the title of his 2005 book, The Voice Doctor: The Story of Singing.1

But Maran’s voice work, which started in the late 1980s, came late in his distinguished medical career. His more important contribution to medicine started nearly 20 years earlier, when he helped pioneer surgery for head and neck cancer in the UK.

In 1972 Maran teamed up with fellow otolaryngologist Philip Stell (read obituary: to publish their popular and esteemed Stell and Maran’s Textbook of Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology. An updated fifth edition of the book, with a foreword and an introduction written by Maran, was published in 2012.2

“Without doubt, his single most important clinical contribution was the introduction, with Professor Stell, of a training system for head and neck cancer surgery to the UK,” says Janet Wilson, professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Newcastle University.

Wilson, who was a clinical and surgical trainee under Maran in Edinburgh, adds: “He was a gifted surgeon and never wary of taking on a new surgical challenge as technology advanced. In addition to his head and neck cancer work, he was a talented facial plastic surgeon and one of the pioneers of endoscopic sinus surgery.”

Maran also was a leader in the surgical …

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