Dr Harry Reich is best known for bringing the laparoscopic hysterectomy into existence. With an innovative mind, gifted skills and observations that ushered in the modern era of surgical thinking, his talents were famous long before his signature achievement.
We spent a day covering the twists and turns of the career and experiences of one of the most influential pioneers in the modern history of surgery.
A man who’s legacy extends to every operating room and millions of patients all over the world.
Not just a first class surgeon.
Not just a first class innovator.
But a first class human being.
The last thing [4:20]
I wanted to be was a doctor.
I started [5:40]
college as a Lehigh engineer
Six years [10:17]
of medical school in Dublin, Ireland and got married.
In 1970 [12:52]
I completed a General Surgery internship in Hawaii.
By luck [14:17]
I got into the General Surgery program at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston as a 1-year fill-in.
We wanted [15:47]
to stay in Boston and I found an ObGyn residency spot at Boston Hospital for Women.
I trained [16:45]
with Robert Kistner, the elite endometriosis surgeon of his day as well as Langdon Parsons who wrote the atlas on cancer with Ufelder.
Endometriosis surgery [17:30]
was started with a diagnostic culdoscopy and later laparoscopy followed by a laparotomy.
I pursued [18:50]
an informal fellowship in Gyn Oncology in Hershey, Pennsylvania with Rodrigue Mortel close to home.
Fresh adhesions [21:00]
how easily fresh adhesions could be separated from a tubo-ovarian abscess.
In 1976 [24:00]
I inherited an infertility clinic with over 100 active patients who had never had a laparoscopy.
Vaginal surgery [27:00]
was my primary interest and I was able to send hysterectomies home in 2 days.
I diagnosed [29:00]
the infertility patients by laparoscopy and brought them back for laparotomy a few months later.
Around 1977 [31:00]
I started doing some adnexal work laparoscopically with bipolar forceps and a monopolar knife
In 1978 [32:00]
I started excising endometriosis from the pelvic sidewalls to free the ovaries
In 1980 [34:00] a local hospital accused me of malpractice for doing this type of surgery instead of abdominal hysterectomy for endometriosis.
I started [38:00]
running as an escape from medicine and ran my first Boston marathon in 1981.
In Boston [39:00]
for these races in 1982 or 1983, I met Bob Hunt at Harvard, who encouraged me to start photodocumenting my surgeries because nobody would believe what I was doing.
In 1984 [40:55]
I did liposuction for a brief time after taking a course in Philadelphia.
In the 1970s [41:20]
I was doing augmentation mammoplasties, but I lost interest in this.
In 1984 [43:50]
the faculty at an IVF course in Wisconsin told me I should forget IVF and start presenting my laparoscopic work at meetings.
In 1985 [45:50]
I presented my work on ectopic pregnancy at a small meeting in New York, and my work on tubo-ovarian abscess at ACOG.
a large volume of fluid in the abdomen at closing was my breakthrough to prevent infection.
Maurice Bruhat in Clermont Ferrand while on vacation was interesting. I also met Hubert Mahnes, Arnaud Wattiez, Jean Luc Pouly, and Gérard Mage.
I presented [55:00]
at the AAGL for the very first time on laparoscopic excision of endometriomas and salpingo-oophorectomy. It was very well received and I met a lot of like-minded individuals
In 1986 [57:30]
they had me teach the advanced course at the AAGL meeting and I was the chairman there for over twenty years.
laparoscopy came out in 1986.
I taught [1:06:40]
general surgeons how to do laparoscopic cholecystectomies in 1990.
By late 1987 [1:07:20]
I was closing holes in the bowel.
The story [1:08:00]
of the first laparoscopic hysterectomy involved a group from Tufts University and a light schedule.
I met [1:15:00]
Jerry Hulka in 1985. He always encouraged me.
Leila Adamyan [1:18:00]
invited me to Russia in 1989 when it was still the Soviet Union and I recruited Jacques Duquesne from Switzerland and Thierry Vancaillie.
As far [1:21:00]
as the best laparoscopic surgeons, you can’t go much further than Arnaud Wattiez and Mario Malzoni.
The robot [1:22:00]
is like training wheels for surgery.
I retired [1:27:30]
from practice in 2005
From 2005 to 2008 [1:30:00]
I enjoyed doing adhesion surgeries in the Cayman Islands on a monthly basis and giving training courses in Mexico twice a year.
have three sons.
If you [1:37:00]
could operate with anyone past or present, who would you choose?
What advice [1:39:00]
would you give to a young Harry Reich?
You can check out Dr. Harry Reich's massive curriculum vitae circa 2007 here:
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