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The History of Surgical Staplers: A Combination of Hungarian, Russian, and American Innovation

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Since their development in 1908, surgical staplers have been used as a method of “mechanical suturing” in efforts to divide hollow viscera and create anastomoses in an efficient and sterile manner. The concept for the surgical stapler was first developed by Humér Hultl, a Hungarian professor and surgeon, and designed by Victor Fischer, a Hungarian businessman and designer of surgical instruments. The design was highly acclaimed; however, it was bulky, cumbersome, and expensive to manufacture. In 1920, Aladár Petz, a student of Hultl, incorporated two innovations to the Fischer-Hultl stapler to create a more lightweight model, which was named the Petz clamp. In 1934, Friedrich of Ulm designed what would be the predecessor to the modern-day linear stapler. In the 1950s, Russian and American staplers began to emerge. Throughout the 1960s, a variety of stapling instruments were developed in the United States, manufactured by the United States Surgical Corporation. In the 1970s, Johnson & Johnson Ethicon brand joined the market. The United States Surgical Corporation was later bought by Tyco Healthcare and became Covidien in 2007. Through the collaboration of Felicien Steichen, Mark Ravitch, and Leon Hirsch, surgical staplers were further modified to incorporate interchangeable cartridges with various designs. With the advent of minimally invasive surgery began production of laparoscopic surgical staplers. Since its inception, the surgical stapler has provided a means to efficiently create safe and effective visceral and vascular anastomoses. The surgical stapler design continues to evolve while still maintaining the basic principles that were implemented in the original design.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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