Founding of the New England Society for Vascular Surgery
During the years following World War II and the Korean War, the specialty of peripheral vascular surgery was born. It was baptized by the founding of the Society for Vascular Surgery with its inaugural meetings in 1947, and by that of the International Cardiovascular Society in 1952. During the two decades thereafter, surgeons enlisted in the specialty in growing numbers, but until the late 1960’s there were relatively few training programs. Inevitably, the first to enter the field had to invent new techniques, adapt instruments and techniques from general surgery and transmit their skills to generations of younger colleagues, but many years passed before there were adequate numbers of trained, skilled surgeons around the country to meet demands. Of particular importance was the lack of practitioners able to deal with emergencies such as abdominal aortic aneurysms and acute ischemia by arterial occlusion. Far too many patients with symptomatic or ruptured aneurysms were subjected to lethal delay through transfer to distant medical centers. Even lesser vascular surgical conditions could not be treated in many hospitals, especially in thinly populated areas.
By 1973, it was clear that more had to be done to generate more vascular surgeons. In the summer of that year, Robert R. Linton, MD and R. Clement Darling, Jr., MD of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Ralph A. Deterling, Jr., MD of the New England Medical Center agreed that the influence of the national societies and medical centers needed to be expanded by creating regional societies that could reach much larger numbers of surgeons to help them advance their knowledge and skill. In this way, the New England Society for Vascular Surgery (NESVS), the first regional vascular society in the country, was founded. Several meetings were held and the group of charter members grew to twenty by the end of the year. That number grew to 37 members, from all six New England states, by the first Annual Meeting in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire in 1974.
For the first 25 years, the meetings were held in conjunction with the New England Surgical Society in various New England and eastern Canadian convention sites. In that period, the NESVS steadily grew to a membership well over 100, was fiscally stable and held Annual Meetings of steadily increasing breadth and quality. Papers presented at the meetings enjoyed a high rate of publication, first in the JAMA Archives of Surgery, and since 1988, the Journal of Vascular Surgery. By the meeting of September 1998 in Toronto, the Society looked back with a feeling of achievement, gratification and pride at its first twenty-five years, with determination for the next twenty-five to be just as successful.
As the Society moved into the 21st century, several new initiatives were undertaken. During this time, Vascular Surgery became recognized as an independent specialty, and the New England Vascular Society began to hold its Annual Meeting independent of the New England Surgical Society. With an independent format, the NESVS was able to expand its Annual Meeting to include a postgraduate training course focusing on critical vascular techniques and innovations, expand the number of paper presentations in the plenary sessions and to host events focused on medical students, residents and fellows pursuing a career in Vascular Surgery.
Another major initiative involving the NESVS during this time was the formation of a regional quality improvement registry, as proposed by Dr. Jack Cronenwett in his Presidential Address to the Society at its 25th annual meeting. The Vascular Study Group of New England (VSGNE) was founded in 2001 with his leadership, and is a cooperative group organized to improve the care of patients with vascular disease. By collecting and exchanging information, the group strives to continuously improve the quality, safety, effectiveness and cost of caring for patients with vascular disease. The VSGNE now encompasses 22 institutions spanning the whole of New England, and once again New England has helped lead the way for the rest of the country. A decade after the inception of VSGNE, numerous similar regional quality initiatives are being developed as part of what is now a national movement sponsored by the Society for Vascular Surgery as the SVS Vascular Quality Initiative.
The members of the New England Vascular Society continue to reflect with pride on the leadership and innovation that have been at the core of its foundation and continued existence. As the NESVS moves past 35 years as a formal society, it remains vibrant and completely dedicated to advancing the prevention and treatment of vascular disease in New England and beyond.
Nathan P. Couch, MD
Mark F. Fillinger, MD
Past Officers of the NESVS
Robert R. Linton Distinguished Address
To view the past Robert R. Linton Distinguished Address speakers at the Annual Meeting, please click here.
Distinguished Address speakers at the Annual Meeting, please click here.