Dr. Paul F. Vietz, OB/GYN of Carroll County, who teamed up with a colleague to be the first in the United States to perform a minimally invasive hysterectomy, dies

Dr. Paul F. Vietz, OB/GYN of Carroll County, who teamed up with a colleague to be the first in the United States to perform a minimally invasive hysterectomy, dies

Dr. Paul F. Vietz, a Carroll County obstetrician-gynecologist who, along with colleague Dr. T. Samuel Ahn, was the first physician in the nation to perform hysterectomy surgery that removed the uterus without major surgical incisions, died of a blood disorder on October 23 at his home in Westminster. He was 91 years old.

“This surgical technique was popular in the 1980s in Europe but not here, and now it’s done everywhere and is very popular,” said Dr. Ahn, a retired OB/GYN, who was a surgical partner of Dr. Vietz, in a telephone. interview. “Conventional surgery for hysterectomy can result in a long recovery for the patient whereas our procedure has a great benefit for the patient as he recovers much faster.”

Paul Fritz Vietz, son of Fritz Vietz and Hildegard Pietsch Vietz, was born in Berlin. His father was drafted into the German army and killed in World War II, and his mother died at an early age of endometriosis, leaving him an orphan.

Raised in Berlin by his grandmother, Dr. Vietz was a graduate of the Leibnitz Oberrealschule and, because of his mother’s death, he decided to pursue a medical career in obstetrics and gynecology, family members said.

A graduate of the Free University of Berlin, in the early 1950s, Dr. Vietz studied for a year at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, as an exchange student, then returned to Germany where he completed his medical studies. also at the Free University of Berlin.

He completed a gynecology internship in Glens Falls, New York, and again returned to Germany where he married his high school sweetheart, the former Sigrid M. Jackisch, in 1958. The couple honeymooned en route to Baltimore where he completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Union Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Vietz established an obstetrician-gynecologist practice in Westminster. Interested in the latest treatments for his patients, he became fascinated with what is now called minimally invasive surgery, or laparoscopy, which was a developing field at the time.

He studied and collaborated with Dr. Kurt Karl Stephan Semm at the University of Kiel in Germany, who is the “father of modern laparoscopy and pelviscopy”, and developed what is called CISH, which is the acronym for classic supracervical intrafascial hysterectomy, and designed the surgical instruments required to perform the procedure.

The most common causes of hysterectomy are abnormal bleeding, fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Dr. Vietz and Dr. Ahn traveled to Germany to learn how to perform CISH with Dr. Semm and brought the technique to what is now Carroll County Medical Center, where in December 1991 they performed the first CISH in the country, according to a 1994 article in The Sun.

“The operation removed the uterus without major surgical incisions and preserves the outer walls of the cervix,” the newspaper reports. “It removes the uterus without the abdominal vaginal incision characteristic of traditional hysterectomies.”

“In our opinion,” Dr. Vietz told the newspaper, “this is the gentlest hysterectomy we can offer. It is minimally invasive surgery and bone-conserving surgery. organs.

The procedure required a high level of manual dexterity from the surgeon, The Sun observed.

“If some doctors don’t learn properly, they’re going to make a lot of mistakes,” Dr. Ahn told The Sun in 1994. “That applies to all kinds of endoscopic exams. [laparoscopic] operation.”

The surgery begins using instruments that Dr. Semm had designed with three small incisions at the level of the navel and the root of the pubic hair. A thin hollow tube carrying the laparoscope camera is inserted and allows the surgeon to view the abdomen through a small hole.

A television monitor captures the image and allows the surgeon performing the operation to remove the uterus without making large surgical incisions, which prevented scarring and promoted faster recovery.

“After cutting the uterus from surrounding tissue, the doctor inserts an instrument into the vagina to ‘dig out’ the center of the cervix – the part most susceptible to cancer,” The Sun reported. “Then a sharp instrument is inserted through one of the incisions to cut the uterus into small pieces and suction it through a tube.”

The other benefit was that the surgery “saved part of the cervix, the surrounding ligaments and muscles – which support the pelvic floor – are left intact”, reported The Sun. “These muscles play a role in preventing bladder problems.”

Dr Vietz told the newspaper: “If a woman has a healthy cervix, I have no reason to touch it or remove healthy tissue.”

“Dr. Vietz was a very good and caring man when it came to his patients. They always came first,” Dr. Ahn said in the interview. good results, he worked hard for his patients and was a very good doctor.

Dr. Vietz and Dr. Ahn maintained separate OB/GYN practices.

“We worked together in surgery and were just two doctors helping each other with this operation,” Dr. Ahn said.

In the operating room, Dr. Vietz was very busy.

“As I said, he was very disciplined and during the operation he didn’t talk much or tell jokes, which could sometimes scare the nurses in the operating room,” said Dr Ahn. . “But, after the job was done, he was the very warm and friendly outgoing person that he was.”

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In 1994, the two surgeons published an account of their pioneering work in the February 1994 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“They were pioneers, but the procedure has since evolved, and today we are more likely to remove the cervix,” said Dr. Michael P. Vietz, his son, who is an OB/GYN. and president of the OB/GYN. department of St. Agnes Hospital and a resident of Westminster.

While he had given up surgery and childbirth, Dr. Vietz continued to practice until recently.

He was joined by his wife, a histology technician, who worked with her husband from the time he opened a private practice until he closed it two years ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. and retire.

The eldest, Dr. Vietz, who was an avid philatelist and reader, also liked to keep up to date with his medical training and listening to classical music. He and his son also shared a love of photography.

Services were held Nov. 1 at Pritts Funeral Home in Westminster.

In addition to his wife of 64 years and son, Dr. Vietz is survived by his daughter, Martina M. “Tina” Saboury, of Westminster; one sister, Anita Augustin of Berlin; and two grandchildren.

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