Karl Zimmerman

Karl Zimmerman | ASCRS

1958 to 1959

An ANNIVERSARY is a time to pause and reminisce, to remember famous men of the past, and to review their works which form the foundation on which the present level of our proficiency stands. It also seems an appropriate time to analyze our present situation and to make predictions and plans for the future.


This is the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the American Proctologic Society and proctology as a specialty. The first meeting of our society was called to order in Columbus, Ohio, June 4, 1899, by Dr. Joseph M. Mathews, who was at one time president of the American Medical Association. There were 13 original members and the society was organized "for the cultivation and dissemination of knowledge in whatever relates to diseases of the rectum and colon."


The ancient Babylonians reported treatment of fistulas and listed fees for such treatment. Egyptian Pharaohs appointed physicians who 'were held responsible for the condition of various parts of the body including those in our specialty. From this time until the fourteenth century, proctologic conditions are mentioned occasionally in medical literature, but little of interest is reported. St. Fiacre, a patron saint of those suffering from hemorrhoids, practiced in the sixth century, but it was not until 1376 when John Arclerne published his "Treatise of Fistula in Ano, Hemorrhoids, and Clysters" that some of the present principles underlying the treatment of fistulas were first described.