At the time of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies World Congress in Munich in 1981, there existed a nucleus of neurosurgeons who had taken up microscopic transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary disorders. Although this approach had been kept alive by Norman Dott and Gerard Guiot after Dr. Cushing abandoned it in the late 1920s. It was Jules Hardy's presentations in the late 1960s that encouraged neurosurgeons from many parts of the world to begin to use this approach, along with microsurgical techniques, for the treatment of pituitary and related disorders.
The Munich meeting was a highly successful World Congress, and incorporated many cultural events including opera performances. It was my own good fortune to try to obtain a ticket for the opera performance in which Dr. Rudolph Fahlbusch's wife, Hannah, was singing the role of Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto. In the process, I met a medical group of like minded people who not only enjoyed opera, but were beginning to develop transsphenoidal pituitary surgery in their own countries. We all joined together after the performance, and we agreed that it would be wonderful thing to have periodic meetings, and to share our enthusiasm for this relatively new and exciting area of Neurosurgery. These founding individuals included: Rudolph Fahlbusch (Germany), Antony Jefferson (UK), J. C. “Kay” de Villiers (South Africa), Philip Wrightson (New Zealand), Graham Teasdale (UK), Lindsay Symon (UK), Massimo Giovanelli (Italy), Alex Landolt (Switzerland), Fabian Isamat (Spain), Harley Smyth (Canada), Achille Stevenaert (Belgium), Albert Rhoton (USA), Peter Reilly (Australia), Michael Powell (UK), and Edward Laws (USA).
With the help of a little time and a lot of enthusiasm, we put together the first meeting of an International Society of Pituitary Surgeons in the summer of 1983. Arrangements were made in Boston with the help of Nicholas Zervas and Peter Black. The venue was a small private women's College, Pine Manor, where we had accommodations and meeting space.
From the beginning, the Society was deliberately informal, and was open to all allied disciplines: Pathology, Endocrinology, Neurology, Otorhinolaryngology, Neuroimaging, Radiation Oncology, Anesthesiology and Critical Care, and others. It was deliberately International and multidisciplinary in scope. Venues for the meetings, which occurred every 2-3 years, were designed to be exciting in themselves, conducive to intellectual stimulation and interaction, and were generally were timed adjacent to a major international Neurosurgical meeting. There were no officers; Dr. Edward Laws was the initial organizer, followed by Dr. Nelson Oyesiku in 2009. Many members facilitated the various meetings and contributed to their programs, which usually were centered on “hot topics”, areas of controversy, and various updates in surgery, endocrinology and related fields.
Traditionally, our meetings have incorporated “regular” attendees and cameo appearances from specialties other than Neurosurgery, including Kalman Kovacs, Joseph Martin, Carin Muhr, Michael Besser, John Wass, Shlomo Melmed, Jean Vezina, Anna Maria Colao, Sylvia Asa, Shereen Ezzat, Robert Smee, Mats Bergstrom, Mary Lee Vance, Beatriz Lopes, and Manfred Tsabitsher, There have also been strong links with the International Pituitary Pathology Club, and the Pituitary Society, with significant overlap in membership.
A key heirloom of the ISP is the “RED BOOK” which catalogues the attendees of every meeting since its inception.
Submitted by Edward R. Laws, MD, FACS, on behalf of the International Society of Pituitary Surgeons.
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF PITUITARY SURGEONS