EAU History Congress to offer “inspiration and perspective”

The EAU History Office is hosting another edition of the International Congress on the History of Urology to coincide with EAU23 and to mark the end of the EAU’s 50th Anniversary year. On 10 March 2023, the first day of EAU23 in Milan, there will be a full-day programme subtitled ‘Paradigm Shifts in Urology: 50 Years of Major Developments’.

Wed, 23 Nov 2022 • By Loek Keizer
EAU 23History OfficeHistory Of UrologyHistory CongressEAU History Office

The History Congress will examine some highlights in urology that coincide with the EAU’s five decades of excellence. The selected speakers are experts in their respective fields, including medical pioneers and key figures from EAU history.

The two chairs of the Congress, History Office chairman Prof. Philip Van Kerrebroeck (Antwerp, BE) and his predecessor Prof. Dirk Schultheiss (Giessen, DE) give a preview of some of the themes and topics that will be covered.

Celebrating uniqueness of urology

“It’s important to realise that urology is one of the few subspecialties within surgery that was able to retain diagnostics and the conservative part of treatment. Most other fields within surgery have an equivalent within internal medicine. Gastroenterological surgeons, have gastroenterologists, cardiac surgeons have the cardiologists, and so on. Within the field of urology, this has never been the case. This has historical reasons: the development of specific techniques like endoscopy that urologists always kept for themselves.”

“If you talk to younger colleagues about why they want to become urologists, this is one reason they give: urology is not only dealing with surgical aspects but also the conservative and diagnostic aspects in terms of therapy. You see a patient from diagnostics to therapy and often beyond.”

A half-century

“The general theme of the History Congress is the development of urology over the last 50 years, divided by subspecialty. First of all, this congress marks the end of the EAU’s anniversary celebrations that started at EAU22 and we wanted to highlight what happened in urology in the EAU’s lifetime. Secondly, we wanted to illustrate how much has changed in our field in only 50 years. It’s amazing: if you look how urologists worked, in case of diagnostics and therapies, it’s completely different. Some elements have persisted but there are so many more new modalities or older modalities that have been transformed.”

“All medical specialties have had huge developments since the early 1970s, but in urology perhaps there were more dramatic changes. Even over the course of our careers, the amount of open surgery for kidney stones, or for instance cases of horseshoe kidney, have now almost completely been eradicated. The advent of laparoscopic and robotic techniques have even more reduced the need for open surgery and this trend was adopted particularly quickly in urology. Urodynamics has become digitalized and computerised. Urology can also be seen as a pioneer in the development of prosthetics, for instance in sphincter and penile prostheses, and in the development of neuromodulation in functional problems.”

“Reviewing 50 years is not only a review of what we achieved, but also of what was not achieved, or still problematic, or even new problems we created. Looking at sexual reassignment surgery, what was completely normal only 20 years ago is already considered outdated or ridiculous.”

A chance to meet pioneers

“Because the programme is focused on the past 50 years, it also allows us to invite people who ‘wrote history’ in this period. Prof. Patrick Walsh is joining us from the United States to talk about his role in the discovery of nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy. His work in the 1970s and 1980s caused a shift in the thinking around radical prostatectomy. Another big name from the history of our field is Prof. Tony Mundy, leading expert in urethral strictures who will undoubtedly share a great historic overview of his expertise.”

“For a fresh perspective, several non-urologists will be participating including the prolific Belgian author Kristien Hemmerechts. The role of women in urology and the EAU in particular is of course a very current debate. The number of female urologists is increasing, but their involvement in the EAU’s offices and boards is still lacking. We think it’s very important to focus on role of women in urology and by extension the EAU and we think Mrs. Hemmerechts can provide a feministic point of view on the challenges for women in medicine or professional organisations.”

“The programme is organised around a variety of important subspecialties and feature some provocative and conversation-starting sessions. It will be chaired by members of the EAU History Office and also the EAU Board. The programme will be unique in that we will have four of the EAU’s (former) Secretary Generals taking part in some capacity. We will have speakers from all across the world, young and old.”

Inspiration and perspective

“We always hope that participants take away a new consideration for their work. History can be humbling! We also think the programme and speakers will offer inspiration that will help our colleagues in their daily practice from the next day on. That’s what sets us apart from other professions: medicine requires an inspiration: empathy, individual contact, psychological aspects at every level, and the focus on the patient. That’s what a congress like ours can offer.”

  • The International Congress on the History of Urology is free to attend for all EAU23 delegates and requires no separate registration. It replaces the History Office’s usual “Special Session” but its Poster Session will be held as usual.