History of Microsurgery
In 1957, Dr. Harry J. Buncke was inspired by Mr. Thomas Gibson to develop techniques for transplanting blocks of tissue on small vessels 1 mm in size. Seven years later, in March of 1964, he reported the first successful rabbit ear replantation to the Plastic Surgical Research Council meeting. He and his wife, Constance Buncke, M.D., performed the first great toe-to-thumb transplant in the rhesus monkey in 1964. These early achievements revolutionized the management of hand trauma throughout the world.
Special micro instruments, sutures and hand-made needles were created to perform these procedures. Dr. Buncke helped to develop microsurgical laboratories at the University of California San Francisco, Stanford University, Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Davies Medical Center and the Hospital Jeanne d'Arc in Nancy, France.
In 1969, at Oak Knoll, Donald McLean, M.D. and Dr. Buncke performed the first successful microvascular transplant using the omentum to fill a large skull defect. He also helped do the first microvascular transplants at Davies Medical Center, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California San Francisco, University of California Irvine, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, N.Y.U., Puerto Alegre, Brazil, and the Royal Medical Center in Amman, Jordan.
The Davies Medical Center unit began in 1970. We performed the first human toe-to-hand transplant, scalp replant, serratus-combined-latissimus microvascular transplant, four-digit replant and multiple microvascular simultaneous transplant in the United States. Hundreds of clinical and research fellows and residents have trained here. Twenty-seven of these trainees have subsequently become department chairmen or co-chairmen. More than 400 articles, books and chapters have been published from our service.
Dr. Harry J. Buncke has earned recognition as the Father of Microsurgery.