Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery
1972 - 2002

In the late 1960's a number of surgeons specializing in vascular surgery became interested in forming a local organization to provide an opportunity for sharing clinical experience and to hold educational meetings. In 1969, the Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery was formed by Peter Samuels, Seymour Greenstone, Wiley Barker, Max Gaspar, Robert Ozeran, Herbert Roedling, Andrew Scharff and Roscoe Webb. Dr. Samuels assumed the Presidency and Dr. Greenstone became Secretary-Treasurer. The mission of the organization was to address the needs of the vascular surgeon in clinical practice.

In 1970, the group inaugurated monthly gatherings at the Sportman's Lodge, in Studio City Los Angeles. The meetings provided an opportunity for vascular surgeons to discuss interesting cases and clinical problems. Periodically, a guest speaker was invited to address the group. The list of lecturers included such prominent names as Jack Wylie, John McCaughan, Thomas Fogarty, Sean Moore and William Kolff. In the early years, Peter Samuels published a newsletter, The Palpable Pulse, for the Society, which contained reviews of interesting articles. As information about the new organization spread, membership showed steady growth, predominantly from vascular surgeons practicing in Southern California.

By 1972 it was apparent that the Society should organize a formal Symposium to provide continuing education in Southern California. The first annual symposium was held in April 1973 at the Erewan Garden Hotel in Indian Wells, California. The format selected was that of a postgraduate course with special emphasis on clinically relevant topics, in keeping with the primary thrust of the Society. Prominent invited lectures included Felix Eastcott, David Hume, Anthony Imperato, Seymour Schwartz and Eugene Strandness. The symposium was so well attended that the meeting room barely accommodated the participants.

This successful event ended on a sad note with the death of Dr. Hume in the crash of his private airplane as he was flying home. The otherwise success of the first meeting led to plans for subsequent meetings. Wiley Barker, one of the founding members, arranged for future programs to be co-sponsored by UCLA. The first joint symposium was held in Palm Springs in 1974. Leadership for this and subsequent meetings fell upon Peter Samuels, representing the Society, and Herbert Machleder, representing UCLA. A special event at the meeting was a tribute to David Hume given by Jerome Sacks, who had been a resident under Dr. Hume. The Society then created the Hume Memorial Lectureship, which has remained a highlight of the meeting throughout the years.

The early meetings were primarily postgraduate courses with an invited faculty presenting the majority of papers. Initially one session was dedicated to the presentation of papers by members. Over the years there was an increase in the number and quality of the abstracts submitted, resulting in a gradual increase in the proportion of the program dedicated to contributions from members. By the late 1980's the program was made up almost entirely of member submitted papers with only a few invited keynote speakers. In 1992 a breakfast session for case reports was added and this has proven to be popular.

In the early years the high quality of the invited presentations and the submitted abstracts led to efforts to publish papers from the meeting. In 1976, Dr. Samuels initiated negotiations with Dr. Robert Zollinger, editor of the American Journal of Surgery. This resulted in the August 1977 issue having a section for papers from the Symposium. Since that time, the Society has a dedicated issue of the American Journal of Surgery for papers presented at the Annual Symposium. The first issue had 56 pages dedicated to the SCVS, including 7 papers from the invited faculty and 7 papers submitted by the members. In marked contrast, the entire 120-page, 1996 issue was completely filled with 29 papers presented at the Symposium.

The excellence of the Annual Vascular Symposium attracted attention to the Society and resulted in a steady growth in the membership. Many surgeons attended the Symposium without knowledge of the organization and went on to join, once they learned about the goals of the SCVS. Although initially most of the members were from Southern California, there was a progressive increase in representation of all parts of the country. By early 1980's there was growing pressure from members outside of California to hold meetings in other parts of the country, but the co-sponsorship by UCLA limited the venues to Southern California.

In 1981, Robert Blumenberg from Schenectady, New York, became the first President from outside of California. The association with UCLA was terminated in 1985 and the 1986 Annual Symposium was held in Orlando, Florida. Since then meetings have been held in a variety of sites in California, Arizona, Hawaii and Florida. Holding some of the symposia in Florida resulted in an increase in membership from eastern and Midwest states, further contributing to the national nature of the SCVS.

This same period saw an increase in recognition from outside the organization. First, the SCVS was added to the list of surgical societies officially listed by theAmerican College of Surgeons. We were later given a seat on the ACS Board of Governors, thus providing us with an official voice in that organization. Recently, membership was also achieved in the Advisory Council on Vascular Surgery to the American College of Surgeons. The Society has also begun working on endovascular programs, among the first being held during the June 1996 vascular meeting of the SVS-ISCVS. We will continue this relationship in the future. The Society has also taken an active role in issues pertaining to all vascular surgeons, for example, independent Vascular Board status and training of vascular surgeons.

In 1987, Herbert Dardik initiated a regular publication of a Society newsletter, a first among the vascular societies. Through the years the newsletter has helped to provide information about the Symposia as well as other affairs of the Society. The addition of concise case reports and other "tidbits" has been an attractive feature. The newsletter is currently on the web.

The Society's meetings consist of multiple sessions over three and a half days interspersed with special invited lecturers, postgraduate courses and practical "how I do it" presentations.

Time for audience participation with questions and answers is carefully scheduled into the program as well as a number of social activities such as the welcome party, the President's dinner, and the Annual Gala. In fact, the Society has been recognized as the means by which so many life-long friendships have developed.

The Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery has flourished over the past quarter of a century. From a humble origin in Southern California, to a recognized annual postgraduate symposium in concert with UCLA to its current status as a national society comprised of both academic and community surgeons, the vitality of American vascular surgery is easily seen in the quality of the clinical practice of its membership and their contributions to the art and science of our specialty.