|Born||12 October 1879
|Died||28 December 1955 (aged 76)
René Leriche gave his name to two syndromes:
- Leriche's syndrome - Impotence and buttock claudication and absent pulses in the groin and legs due to saddle embolus or atherosclerosis at the aortic bifurcation.
- Sudek-Leriche syndrome - Aseptic necrosis of bone following injury (also known as Sudek atrophy)
Born in Roanne the son of a lawyer Leriche began his career in Lyon. In 1924 he was appointed Professor of Surgery at the University of Strasbourg. In 1927 he was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He was the first surgeon to be made Professeur au Collège de France.
He was a technically gifted surgeon and had flair for teaching. This attracted students to him - many of whom became renowned in their own right. He emphasised the importance of regarding the patient as a whole - the holistic approach.
He devised a surgical procedure, the sympathectomy, to increase blood flow within arteries.
He was awarded the Lister Medal in 1939 for his contributions to surgical science. The corresponding Lister Memorial Lecture, delivered that same year at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, was titled 'The Listerian Idea in 1939'.
Under Vichy he was appointed the first director of the national Medical Board (ordre des médecins) created by Pétain and so he participated in the exclusion politics of Jewish physicians. As many people engaged in collaboration with Vichy, he emerge from the war almost unscathed (see Bruno Halioua)
In 1958, a French postage stamp was issued with his name and portrait on it.
Leriche was a flamboyant character who enjoyed French cuisine and fine wine. He had a fine collection of art (one of his patients was Matisse). He was an excellent public speaker who never needed notes.
References and notes
- Announcement of the award of the Lister Medal - Br Med J. 1938 May 28; 1(4038): 1163–1166.
- The Listerian Idea in 1939, René Leriche, Br Med J. 1939 April 15; 1(4084): 759–764.
Bruno Halioua, Blouses blanches, étoiles jaunes : L'exclusion des médecins juifs en France sous l'Occupation, Paris, Liana Levi, 2002, 285 p. (ISBN 2-86746-316-5)
- B.G. Firkin & J.A.Whitworth (1987). Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. Parthenon Publishing. ISBN 1-85070-333-7
- R. Leriche: De la résection du carrefour aortico-iliaque avec double sympathectomie lombaire pour thrombose artéritique la l’aorte: le syndrome de l’oblitération termino-aortique par artérite. La presse médicale, Paris, 1940, 48: 601-607.
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