National Without a Scalpel Day Date in the current year: January 16, 2024

National Without a Scalpel Day National Without a Scalpel Day is observed annually on January 16. It was created to recognize the medical specialty of interventional radiology and raise awareness of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures (MIIPs) that reduce pain, recovery time, and risk of infection compared to traditional surgery.

Interventional radiology is a medical specialty that performs diagnostic and therapeutic procedures through tiny incisions or body orifices using medical imaging guidance. Such procedures are called minimally invasive procedures and are contrasted to open procedures, i.e. surgery, and non-invasive procedures that do not involve punctures, incisions, or the introduction of foreign objects into the body.

The person regarded as the father of interventional radiology is American radiologist Charles Dotter who invented angioplasty, an endovascular procedure used to widen narrowed or obstructed blood vessels with the help of a balloon attached to a catheter. He performed the first peripheral angioplasty on January 16, 1964 at Oregon Health and Science University. Dotter successfully dilated a stenosis of the superficial femoral artery in an 82-year old woman suffering from painful ischemia and gangrene who did not want her leg amputated. After the procedure, the patient lived for two and a half years and died of unrelated causes.

Since the introduction of angioplasty, many other minimally invasive procedures have followed. Those of them that involve the insertion of an endoscope through a small incision or orifice have the suffix -oscopy: arthroscopy, bronchoscopy, colonoscopy, laparoscopy, etc. The general term for such procedures is endoscopy. Other examples of minimally invasive procedures include coronary catheterization, hypodermic injection, the Nuss procedure, refractive surgery, stereotactic surgery, and many more.

Minimally invasive procedures typically cause less pain and scarring than an equivalent open surgery, as well as reduce the risk of adverse effects and complications. Even though procedure time is longer than traditional surgery, hospitalization and recovery time is shorter; many MIIPs can be performed on an outpatient basis. Of course, not all surgical procedures can be replaced with minimally invasive procedures, but many of them can, and patients deserve to know when MIIPs are an option.

National Without a Scalpel Day was launched in 2015 by the Interventional Initiative, a nonprofit organization that educates clinicians and the general public about the value of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures. Its date was chosen to commemorate the day when Charles Dotter performed the first peripheral angioplasty, laying the foundation for interventional radiology.

You can get involved with National Without a Scalpel Day by learning more about minimally invasive procedures and their benefits, sharing your experiences with MIIPs, giving a shout out to interventional radiologists, watching the Interventional Initiative’s documentary titled Without a Scalpel, and spreading the word about the observance on social media with the hashtags #NationalWithoutAScalpelDay and #WithoutAScalpelDay.

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National Without a Scalpel Day, observances in the US, healthcare observances, minimally invasive procedures, Charles Dotter