Table of Contents  
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 105-106

Robert B. Rutherford: A “teacher's teacher” the man behind the lasting legacy: The text book of vascular surgery

Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Date of Web Publication3-May-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Devender Singh
Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijves.ijves_71_17

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How to cite this article:
Singh D. Robert B. Rutherford: A “teacher's teacher” the man behind the lasting legacy: The text book of vascular surgery. Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg 2018;5:105-6

How to cite this URL:
Singh D. Robert B. Rutherford: A “teacher's teacher” the man behind the lasting legacy: The text book of vascular surgery. Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg [serial online] 2018 [cited 2022 Jan 27];5:105-6. Available from:

In 1975, Dr. Rutherford recognized the need for a comprehensive textbook devoted exclusively to the new specialty of Vascular Surgery. He successfully recruited a group of peers to be associate editors, and in 1977, the first edition of Vascular Surgery was published. In the preface to the first edition, he stated in his usual humble manner that “our efforts will have been rewarded if the book proves helpful to any physician who has committed himself or herself to treating patients with vascular disease.” Over the next 30 years, Dr. Rutherford shepherded his textbook through six editions, constantly updating authors, content, and associate editors before assigning editorship to the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS), who agreed to ensure its publication in perpetuity. Known colloquially as “Rutherford,” this textbook is a reflection of his vision and commitment and has become the definitive source for all practitioners of vascular health care. It is his enduring contribution to our discipline, for which we owe him a great debt of gratitude.

Dr. Rutherford had broad interests in vascular surgery, a scholarly command of the literature, and an outstanding memory. This led to the publication over 400 scientific articles and book chapters on a wide range of topics during his career. He also recognized the need for regular updates of topics for practicing vascular surgeons, which led to his developing and editing Seminars in Vascular Surgery from 1988 to 2012.

Dr. Rutherford served as Senior Editor of the Journal of Vascular Surgery from 1996 to 2003. He was a natural editor because he was an organized, experienced writer with an encyclopedic knowledge of the literature, who had his own work critically reviewed many times. He was fair, balanced, and prepared to help less experienced authors. He continued to develop reporting standards during this phase of his career and to emphasize that studies should adhere to such standards.

Dr. Rutherford classified limb ischemia in 1986[1] with revision in 1997.[2] Rutherford classified peripheral artery disease into acute and chronic limb ischemia, emphasizing that each presentation requires different treatment algorithms. Rutherford's acute limb ischemia classification divides an extremity into viable, threatened, or irreversibly damaged categories.

Dr. Rutherford was a member of many professional societies and was the President of four. Most notably, he served as the 43rd President of the International Society for Cardiovascular Surgery, North American Chapter (now the SVS). In his Presidential Address of 1995, he emphasized the importance of uniform disease-specific reporting standards for describing vascular interventions, their results, and their complications. Dr. Rutherford organized the Society of Vascular Surgery committees that developed the current reporting standards. They are a major contribution to the advancement of our specialty, and this initiative expanded globally when he co-chaired the first TransAtlantic Consensus on Peripheral Arterial Occlusive Disease, in 2000.[3]

In 2005, the Society of Vascular Surgery honored Dr. Rutherford with its Lifetime Achievement Award. This is the highest honor that the SVS bestows on one of its members. It recognizes an individual's outstanding and sustained contributions both to the profession of vascular surgery and to the Society, as well as exemplary professional practice and leadership.

Dr. Rutherford was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He received his BA (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1952 and his MD (Alpha Omega Alpha) in 1956, both from Johns Hopkins University. After an internship at Johns Hopkins, he completed his general surgery residency at the University of Colorado in 1963. During residency, he did a clinical fellowship year as a Fulbright Scholar at Lund University in Malmo, Sweden. After residency, he served 2 years in the military at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He was then appointed to the surgical faculty at Johns Hopkins in 1965 before returning to the University of Colorado in 1970, where he spent the remainder of his professional career as Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Vascular Surgery Section.

Robert B. Rutherford, MD, died on November 22, 2013, at the age of 82. The vascular surgery community is saddened by the loss of this extraordinary man who is remembered for establishing the definitive textbook in vascular surgery, his role as Senior Editor of the Journal of Vascular Surgery, his numerous contributions to the care of patients with vascular disease, and his friendship and mentoring. Truly a “teacher's teacher” indeed.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Rutherford RB, Flanigan DP, Gupta SK. Suggested standards for reports dealing with lower extremity ischemia. J Vasc Surg 1986;4:80-94.  Back to cited text no. 1
Rutherford RB, Baker JD, Ernst C, Johnston KW, Porter JM, Ahn S, et al. Recommended standards for reports dealing with lower extremity ischemia: Revised version. J Vasc Surg 1997;26:517-38.  Back to cited text no. 2
TASC. Management of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) TransAtlantic Intersociety Consensus (TASC). J Vasc Surg 2000;31:S1-287  Back to cited text no. 3


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