Laparoscopic surgery has been developed over many decades and it is difficult to pinpoint one individual as pioneer of the approach. It was in 1902 that Georg Kelling from Dresden in Germany performed laparoscopic surgery using dogs and in 1910, Hans Christian Jacobaeus from Sweden used the approach to operate on a human.
Over the next couple of decades, the procedure was refined and popularized by a number of people. The introduction of the computer chip television camera was a key event in the development of laparoscopy, as the procedure could then be conducted while viewing a projected image of the abdominal contents. As well as providing a better view of the internal structures, this also allowed free movement of the surgeon’s hands, making it easier to perform more complex procedures. Before the development of the camera, this approach was reserved only for diagnostic purposes and a few simple surgical procedures in gynecologic applications.
In the early 1950s, a publication on diagnostic laparoscopy was released by Raoul Palmer. In 1972, Henry Clarke patented, published and recorded a laparoscopic procedure using instruments from the Ven Instrument Company in Buffalo, New York. This was followed by J.C Tarasconi from the University of Passo Fundo using laparoscopy to perform organ resection for the first time, which was reported at the Third AAGL Meeting in Atlanta, held in November 1976. His work was later published in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine in 1981, which was the first time that laparoscopic surgical resection had been recorded in medical literature.
In 1981, Kurt Semm from the Kiel University in Germany first used laparoscopy to remove an appendicitis. Semm established some of the techniques that went on to become standard medical procedures such as ovarian cyst enucleation, myomectomy for fibroids and laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy. He also went on to develop a medical instrument company called Wisap in Munich, Germany where many high quality endoscopic instruments are still produced.
In 1990, the laparoscopic clip applier was developed that could automatically advance twenty clips rather than one, thereby eliminating the need to replace each clip for every application. The new clip applier increased the popularity of laparoscopy as a means of removing the gall bladder.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc