Beginning with the rendering of the first known arteriogram in 1896, the long road to the establishment of interventional radiology as the distinct specialty it is today was paved by a long list of pioneering and persistent visionaries, many of whom found themselves initially dismissed — often ridiculed — by the mainstream medical community. Indeed, the man known today as the “father of interventional radiology,” Dr. Charles T. Dotter, was no stranger to that treatment and found himself dubbed “Crazy Charlie” by some for his ideas, said SIR Past-president Timothy P. Murphy, MD, FSIR.
Dr. Murphy paid tribute to the pioneers of IR and the spirit of creativity and courage they all shared when he delivered the 34th Annual Dr. Charles T. Dotter Lecture, “Still Crazy After All These Years,” at SIR 2018 on Sunday.
“While he has received credit as the father of IR, he also deserves credit as the father of modern interventional cardiology and modern vascular surgery,” said Dr. Murphy, medical director of the Vascular Disease Research Center at Rhode Island Hospital and professor in the department of diagnostic imaging at Brown Medical School. “In addition to angioplasty, Dr. Dotter published papers on almost every aspect of what we now consider to be interventional radiology.”
Although it took the mainstream surgical community some time to understand angioplasty’s potential, famously quoted as one of the “greatest examples of collective stupidity ever,” Dr. Dotter’s ideas were eventually validated to the point that today most of the procedures that are done in surgery are referred to as “endo,” which Dr. Murphy said was “quite obviously a euphemism for interventional radiology.”
Dr. Murphy said that among the many lessons to be learned from the work of Dr. Dotter and others is that discovery isn’t always easy and is more often the result of determination and hard work rather than simple brilliance or intellect.
“There’s a lot of heavy lifting that goes into discovery,” he said. “And if you want to innovate, you’re likely to run into some resistance, so be prepared to take a slice of humble pie occasionally.”
Dr. Murphy said that the society must continue to find new and creative ways to foster innovation and encouraged his IR colleagues to support both SIR and SIR Foundation. He also recommended a couple of noteworthy sessions being held at SIR 2018 as good examples of IR innovation in practice: “Engineering Moonshot Technologies to Advance IR” on Monday and “Medical Device Innovation” on Tuesday.
“Dr. Dotter’s vision of the catheter as a surgical tool and the ability to do less-invasive procedures has come to pass because he wasn’t crazy — he was right,” Dr. Murphy said. “Despite all obstacles, we continue to have an amazing culture of innovation in this specialty, and I think our future will continue to be bright because, after all, we are still crazy after all these years.”