Reinhard Bittner (CV) and Ferdinand Köckerling (CV) were trained in general- and visceral Surgery in the University Hospitals of Berlin and Ulm respectively Erlangen. With the advent of minimal invasive surgical techniques in the early 90s, both surgeons were convinced that this new technology will radically change the traditional ways of surgery. Increasingly both surgeons dedicated their clinical activities to laparo-endoscopy, and correspondingly more and more hernia surgery became the focus of their work.
Amazingly, Reinhard Bittner published in 2002 the largest single center series in TAPP (Laparoscopic transperitoneal procedure for routine repair of groin hernia. Bittner R, Schmedt CG, Schwarz J, Kraft K, Leibl BJ. Br J Surg. 2002 Aug; 89(8):1062-6), and Ferdinand Köckerling in 2003 the largest single center series in TEP (Totally extraperitoneal endoscopic inguinal hernia repair (TEP). Tamme C, Scheidbach H, Hampe C, Schneider C, Köckerling F. Surg Endosc. 2003 Feb; 17(2):190-5), up to now. In 2000 both surgeons were commissioned by the German Society for Surgery (DGCH) and the German Society for Visceral Surgery (DGVC) to establish a Subsociety for Minimal Invasive Surgery (MIS) for improvement of quality and further development of this new and challenging way of surgery.
Within a few years more than 600 members of the new Society were registered, numerous training courses and studies organized as well as a big national meeting every year. In 2002 Reinhard Bittner together with Volker Schumpelick founded the German Hernia Society, today counting about 800 members. Furthermore in 2003 together with their colleagues from Austria and Switzerland Reinhard Bittner and Ferdinand Köckerling organized the first joint meeting of laparoscopic surgeons of the three German speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), today an important traditional yearly event. In the same year both surgeons introduced a strictly defined curriculum “Minimal Invasive Surgeon” which had to be certified by qualified experts in MIS. In Germany (may be also globally), this was for the first time, that a surgeon got the opportunity to demonstrate his individual skills and competence in laparo-endoscopic surgery, and moreover, this was also an important step to create a further incentive for the surgical community to improve their capabilities in performing laparo-endoscopic surgery.
In summary, it can be stated, not at least because of the tireless activities of the two surgeons that currently in Germany more than 56% of all hernias are operated in laparo-endoscopic techniques.