Dr. Brian Brewer Blades, 71, an internationally known thoracic surgeon, teacher, author and editor, died Wednesday at George Washington University Hospital after a brief illiness.

Since 1972, he had been emeritus professor of surgery at the George Washington University School of Medidine, where he had served as chairman of the surgery department from 1946 to 1970.

Dr. Blades had been named Lewis Saltz professor of surgery at the medical school in 1961. He also had been chief of surgery at GWU Hospital.

During his many years of teaching and practice, he had been a consultant in chest surgery to the Veterans Administration, National Institute of Health, and Walter Reed and St. Elizabeth hospitals. He also had been a consultant in surgery to the Air Force surgeon general. Since 1972, he had been distinguished physician with the VA.

Dr. Blades was the first recipient of the annual Statesmen in Medicine award, created by an anonymous donor to honor lasting contributions to medical education and surgery.

It was presented to him in 1969 at Airlie House, near Warrenton, Va., and marked the start of a sort of hall of fame there for notable people in the medical field.

The son of a country doctor, Dr. Blades was born in Scottsville, Kan., where he used to accompany his father on rounds in a horse and buggy.

After gradusting from the University of Kansas, he attened medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, graduating cum laude in 1932. He returned there and began his mediacl teaching as an instructor, and then as an assistant professor of surgery.

Dr. Blades interned at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and took his surgical residency at New York's Bellevue Hospital.

From 1942 to 1946, he was an officer in the Army Medical Corps, serving as chief of thoracic surgery at Walter Reed Hospital and as a consultant in surgery to the Army surgeon general. He was awarded the Legion od Merit.

Dr. Blades wrote "Surgical Diseases of the Chest" and several other textbooks, as well as numerous articles on surgery. He had been editor of The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery since 1962.

He was a member of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the American Surgical Association, the Washington Academy of Surgery, the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Clinical Surgery, the Southern Surgical Association, the Society of Trauma, the Southern and American Medical Association, the American College of Chest Physicians and the American Association of Medical Colleges.

He is survived by his wife, Virginia, of the home in Westmoreland Hills; two daughters, Beverly Cagnon, of Agoura, calif., and Judith Hunt, of Bethesda; a son, Brian Layton Blades, of Bethesda, and four grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to Disabled American Veterans in Washington.