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J R Soc Med. 2004 January; 97(1): 50.
PMCID: PMC1079284

The first laparoscopic surgeons

I was surprised that Mr Agha and Mr Muir should state, in their well written and considered review (November 2003 JRSM1) that the laparoscopic era was launched with the description of laparoscopic cholecystectomy by a French general surgeon. In fact it is the humble gynaecologist who should take the credit for introducing the revolution of laparoscopic surgery. Thirty years ago Clarke2 described the first laparoscopic ligation and resection whilst Kurt Semm3—regarded as the ‘father of gynaecological laparoscopy’ described a variety of pelvic procedures (including hysterectomy) accomplished laparoscopically in 1980, a full ten years before laparoscopic cholecystectomy. I hope that this eliminates any confusion over which specialty pioneered the techniques now increasingly utilized in general surgery.


1. Agha R, Muir G. Does laparoscopic surgery spell the end of the open surgeon? J R Soc Med 2003;96: 544–6 [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Clarke HC. Laparoscopy. New instruments for suturing and ligation. Fertility and Sterility 1972;23: 274–7 [PubMed]
3. Semm K, Mettler L. Technical progression in pelvic surgery via operative laparoscopy. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1980;138: 121. [PubMed]

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