Honoring a Master in Colorectal Surgery: Ian Lavery, MD

Lecture by ASCRS President Tracy Hull, MD, will highlight her mentor's legendary career

She had no idea she was walking among giants, Tracy Hull, MD, says about training at Cleveland Clinic in the early 1990s.

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Today, the incoming president of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) fondly remembers one of her teachers, Ian Lavery, MD. He was always ready to give encouragement or answer a question. He was kind and clever. Unknown to her, he also was a renowned colorectal surgeon.

“Before I worked with him, I asked another trainee what he was like,” says Dr. Hull, now Section Chief of Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute. “She told me that he could do more surgically with his little finger while she turned to get an instrument than she could do for the rest of the operation with the instrument. He was so technically gifted.”

And he still is.

Dr. Hull will honor Dr. Lavery during her Masters in Colorectal Surgery Lectureship June 4, at the 2019 ASCRS annual scientific meeting. The title of her talk is “How to Build a Prestigious Career.”

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“Dr. Lavery is a superb surgeon, but there are many of those,” says Dr. Hull. “My talk will share more about his values, patient-care practices, and insights that have made him a legend in colorectal surgery. I hope to inspire audience members to follow in his footsteps.”

Dr. Lavery

The lecture will highlight Dr. Lavery’s career, during which he authored or co-authored more than 200 publications and book chapters — many now fundamental in the training of colorectal surgeons.

“There aren’t many, if any, surgeons alive who have done more rectal cancer surgeries than Dr. Lavery,” says Dr. Hull. “We are both senior surgeons now, but I still ask him for advice.”

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Dr. Lavery was one of the first to successfully use staplers instead of stitches in bowel surgery. He also was one of the first to recognize the value of surgical excellence over chemotherapy and radiation in treating rectal cancer. In the early 2000s, when surgeons were trying to figure out how to reduce local recurrence rates in rectal cancer (some more than 30%), Dr. Lavery already knew how, with rates below 5%.

Dr. Hull’s lecture also will feature Dr. Lavery’s own words about his personal and professional philosophies, and perspectives from colleagues who have witnessed his career journey.

For more about the 2019 ASCRS Distinguished Lectureships, visit fascrs.org/2019-ascrs-distinguished-lectureships.