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Erich Mühe and the Rejection of Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy (1985): A Surgeon Ahead of His Time

JSLS Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons
The Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons
Publication Date
  • Profiles In Laparoscopy
  • Design
  • Medicine


During the early 1980s, news of Semm's laparoscopic appendectomy was rippling through German medical circles. Erich Mühe, fascinated by Semm's technique and spurred by successes of the Erlangen endoscopists, came up with the idea of laparoscopic removal of gallstones. In 1984, Mühe had already worked out the details of an operative laparoscope, the “Galloscope,” and on September 12, 1985, he carried out the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Later, he modified his technique and operated through a trocar sleeve. Finally, he designed an “open laparoscope” with a circular light. By March 1987, Mühe had conducted 97 endoscopic gallbladder removals. He published information about his technique at the Congress of the German Surgical Society (April 1986) and at other surgical meetings in Germany. His concept, however, was ignored. In the middle of the 1980s, the surgical community was still not prepared for the era of “minimally invasive therapy.” Erich Mühe was a surgeon ahead of his time.

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