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    Persistence is key when promoting surgical innovations

    A surgical innovation is defined as a quantum improvement in the treatment of a particular disease or group of diseases, and it usually is developed by an individual or a small group working together, said John Thompson, MD.

    “The initial response is usually resistance from the academic community, and the innovators must endure criticism,” said Dr. Thompson, assistant professor of ophthalmology, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and associate clinical professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore. “The importance of their work often is not widely recognized for years after the initial description.”

    While there have been numerous innovations that ultimately failed—such as retinal translocation and submacular surgery for choroidal neovascularization, among others—others have substantially improved treatments and achieved better outcomes over the course of time but were denigrated despite the fact that when properly executed with refined techniques, the medical peers refused to change the status quo.

    There are countless such examples in the history of medical innovations, and one of the classics that Dr. Thompson recounted is that of the tortuous journey of Neil Kelly, MD, and Rob Wendel, MD, retinal specialists who wanted to address the treatment of macular holes in the mid 1980s.


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