Anniversary Article Series: 80’s The Early Growth
A review of the AAGL’s annual meetings in this decade reflected the growth of its influence on gynecologic surgery as measured by the number of members, the increase in papers on minimally invasive surgery (MIS), and the incorporation of new areas of interest of its membership.
When the AAGL returned to New Orleans in November 1980 for their 9th annual meeting the primary focus of its members was still laparoscopy. But the recognition that this new surgical tool offered a less invasive approach for many gynecological problems led to looking for new uses. Although still not accepted by the leaders of mainstream gynecology, the AAGL was earning a reputation as the leader of the new surgical concept of minimally invasive surgery (MIS). It was natural that hysteroscopy, another endoscopic procedure, would become of increasing interest to the AAGL membership with microsurgery and more specific uses of laparoscopy being explored. Lars Westrom was the 1980 Honorary Chair.
The AAGL celebrated its 10th anniversary at the 1981 annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. Patrick Steptoe presented his pioneering work on in-vitro fertilization and what he saw as to its future. The feasibility of outpatient MIS was presented by Franklin Loffer based on his experience at the Phoenix Surgicenter tm, the world’s first free-standing surgical facility. The meetings Great Debate was “Unipolar Coagulation Should No Longer Have a Place as a Method of Tubal Sterilization” (pro: Jerry Hulka and Kurt Semm & con: Richard Soderstrom and Albert Yuzpe).
San Diego was the location in 1982 of the AAGL’s 11th annual meeting. The Honorary Chair was Jacques Hamou. Postgraduate courses were offered at the meeting for the first time. They were: “Therapeutic Uses of Laparoscopy,” “Lasers in Fertility Surgery,” “Microsurgery,” and “Hysteroscopy”. The Great Debate took the form of a mock trial about “Pregnancy Post Sterilization Failure – Wrongful Life?” In January 1982, the AAGL sponsored the First World Congress in Hysteroscopy. The first issue of the NewsScope was published in September 1982.
In 1983 the AAGL’s 12th annual meeting was held in Washington DC. The meeting had such an increase in the number of papers, lectures, and other educational offerings that the size of the programs of previous years gave way to a larger program. (But still much smaller than our current programs.) Edward Wallach was the Honorary Chair. The Great Debates addressed “The Value of Laser Surgery” (pro: John Marlow & con: Jerry Hulka); and “Should Sterilizations be Reversible?” (pro: Carl Levinson and con: Jerry Hoffman).
There was much discussion at the meeting, both formally and informally, about changing the name of the AAGL to recognize its international membership and its interest beyond laparoscopy. The Board of Trustees voted to submit to the membership a name change to the “International Society for Gynecologic Endoscopy,” however, after additional consideration, it was decided to leave the name as is.
Las Vegas was the location in 1984 of the AAGL’s 13th annual meeting. Raymond Kaufman was the Honorary Chair. The Great Debates for the year were “Is the technique of open laparoscopy really safer than the classical closed approach?” (pro: Harry Hasson & con: Jerry Hulka); and “Is Hysteroscopy replacing hysterosalpingography and becoming an essential part of infertility investigation?” (pro: Patrick Taylor & con: Jacques Rioux). Prizes were given for the first time for resident papers. Barbara Levy (later AAGL president) won for her paper, “Evaluation of Histological Changes following bowel burns.” Her coauthor was Richard Soderstrom.
In 1985 the AAGL’s 14th annual meeting was held at Disneyland. Melvin Cohen was selected by the board to be the Honorary Chair. The Great Debate was “In a female with two apparently normal tubes, and an ectopic in one, should conservative tubal surgery be performed” (pro: Jerry Hoffman & con: John Stangel); and “Sterilization failures result from poor surgical technique” (pro: William Cameron & con: Richard Soderstrom). The papers presented at this meeting reflected the significant increased use of lasers in laparoscopy as well as hysteroscopy.
Orlando was the site of the AAGL’s 1986, 15th annual meeting. The Honorary Chair was Alan DeCerney. The over 700 in attendance heard his lecture “Gynecologic Endoscopic Surgery in the Future: Lessons Learned from Other Disciplines.” The Great Debates were “In Vitro Fertilization Versus Gift for Unexplained Infertility” (pro IVF: Albert Yuzpe & pro GIFT: Vincente Abate); and “Distal Tubal Disease: Microsurgery versus Operative Laparoscopy” (pro microsurgery: Brian Cohen & pro laparoscopy: Ron Levine). The growth of endoscopic surgery was apparent by the need to devote a whole session to “New Instrumentations.”
The 1987, the 16th annual meeting was held in San Francisco. The Honorary Chair was Nargesh Motashaw. Patrick Steptoe gave the Honorary Luncheon talk describing his experience at Bourne Hall with developing invitro fertilization. The Great Debates were “Does Laparotomy Still have a Place in The Management of Unruptured Ectopic Pregnancy?” (pro: Alvin Siegler & con: Stephen Corson); and “All Medical-legal Expert Witnesses Should Give Equal Time to Plaintiff Cases” (pro: Richard Soderstrom & con: Carl Levinson). The increasing importance of the AAGL meetings was shown by the presence of 32 Technical Exhibits compared to the 18 from the previous year.
In 1988, the AAGL’s 17th annual meeting was held in Dallas. Milton Nakamura was named the Honorary Chair and Melvin Cohen gave the Honorary Luncheon talk. The number of Post Graduate Courses were increased from four to seven to accommodate the considerable increase in number of attendees over the past several years. The Great Debates were “Pelviscopic Surgery Should Replace Laparotomy for the Surgical Management of Benign Gynecologic Disease” (pro: Kurt Semm and con: Alvin Siegler); and “Video laparoscopy is the Ideal Method for the Surgical Management for Pelvic Endometriosis” (pro: Camran Nezhat and con: Alvin Siegler).
The 1989, 18th annual AAGL meeting was held in Washington DC. Maurice Bruhat was named the Honorary Chair and Richard Schwartz gave the Honorary Luncheon talk entitled “Medical Education in the 21st Century.” The Great Debates were “Medical vs. Surgical Management of Ectopic Pregnancy” (medical: Dan Martin and surgical: Harry Reich); and “Quality of Life Surgery/Endometrial Ablation” (pro: Richard Gimpelson and con: Alvin Siegler).
The decade of the 1980’s saw the AAGL grow in many ways. The number of members and attendees at the annual meeting increased significantly. A review of the papers presented showed not only an increased use of MIS procedures but also a refinement of techniques and a more in-depth analysis of results and problems. In addition, the organization sponsored many more hands-on teaching programs.
In the 1980s, the AAGL evolved from a society of pioneers to a well-established organization with increased size and influence in gynecologic surgery throughout the world.