Chapter 5 - Society of Laparoscopic & Robotic Surgeons

Chapter 5

The Anatomy of a Pioneer
If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time- a tremendous whack.
-Winston Churchill

Unfortunately, the world would indeed have to wait another half century to see further progress, for Levret’s devise, overall, appears to have gained only minimal attraction from the medical community. In hindsight, this seems surprising considering that Bozzini’s device just 50 years later was able to garner such a greater degree of interest. Curiously too, the amazing fact that Levret was possibly the first ever to have performed a therapeutic endoscopic procedure using reflected light other than sunlight also seems to have slipped past the world’s notice. While the causes for such disparity in acclaim can never be known for certain, the inattention given to this particular invention of Levret’s may have resulted simply because his several other innovations, including his contested but still acclaimed improvements to obstetric forceps, were perceived to be more important achievements at that moment in time.

Such instances of the so close, yet so far away syndrome seem to have been rampant across the landscape of medical history. So often it appears that an earlier invention had everything required to make it just as much of a hit as a later version. Yet, some essential ingredient proved to still be utterly absent. Many of the factors associated with the success of an idea can be attributed to conditions outside the control of the innovator, such as time frame and presence of other technologies. Yet, the efforts of the individual do have a great deal of influence as well, for part of the genius of any innovation is having the inventor recognize the significance of his own discovery. And even that aspect is not sufficient to launch an idea, for the inventor must be able to explain to the world, in simple and easily understood terms, why the invention is worthy of consideration.

The history of endoscopy is therefore ultimately a story inextricably bound by the human energies of character and charisma, persistence and insistence. As Dan Goleman, today’s expert on social intelligence would agree, these ‘people skills’ are absolutely crucial for pushing ideas forward and to the fore, past the pessimists lurking at the door, past dogma and doctrine and even decorum at times. This is the real story behind the endoscope, the one that reveals the irrepressible human spirit as the true driving force behind all of humankind’s greatest achievements. And within a few years the world would indeed see just such a pioneer burst onto the scene whose work would finally advance endoscopy firmly and definitively into the realm of reality.