Richard Troutman, pioneer of microsurgery, dies

Richard Troutman, MD, DSC, who pioneered the development and use of microsurgical instruments in ophthalmology and co-founded the International Society for Refractive Surgeons, died April 5, 2017, at the age of 94.

Born in 1922 and educated at Ohio State University, Troutman received residency and fellowship training in the U.S. Navy and at New York Hospital – Cornell University Medical Center. He was then a resident instructor in ophthalmology at the Manhattan Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital, an assistant professor of Ophthalmology at Cornell Medical College and maintained a private practice.

From 1955 to 1983, Troutman served as professor and head of the Division of Ophthalmology of the State University of New York – Downstate Medical Center.

According to the medical center’s website, Troutman was a pioneer in the design, development, refinement and use of the ophthalmic microscope, including its mounting apparatus. In 1965, Troutman introduced the remote-controlled motorized zoom-magnification microscope at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting. He was also one of the first to perform corneal transplant surgery and was a strong advocate of eye banks and eye banking.

“Richard ‘Dick’ Troutman, MD, was a giant contributor to ophthalmic microsurgery of the anterior segment including corneal transplant, cataract and corneal refractive surgery,” OSN Chief Medical Editor Richard Lindstrom, MD, told Surgery News.

Troutman also founded the International Society of Refractive Keratoplasty, the predecessor of ISRS, with José I. Barraquer, MD, Casimir Swinger, MD, and Miles Friedlander, MD, in order to “recognize and encourage the international contributions that had given birth to refractive keratoplasty,” according to the ISRS website.

“He was a superb surgeon in demand by the rich and famous and for difficult complex cases. He helped found the Castroviejo Society, International Ophthalmic Microsurgery Study Group and International Society of Refractive Surgery. I was a member of all three and was blessed to get to know Dick well and share ideas during and after his remarkable career,” Lindstrom said.

Troutman and his wife Suzanne Véronneau, MD, established the Microsurgical Research Foundation in 1976, and in 2002, the organization, along with SUNY Downstate Medical Center, established the Richard C. Troutman, MD, Distinguished Chair in Ophthalmology and Ophthalmic Microsurgery. The Microsurgical Research Foundation also funds the $5,000 annual Troutman Prize for best original article published in the Journal of Refractive Surgery.

“I will remember Dick Troutman for his insatiable intellectual curiosity, his ability to resolve unmet needs and translate bench research to the clinic and operating theater, his giving nature in regard to teaching and philanthropy, and as a special friend who was stimulating company at a meeting or dinner,” Lindstrom said. – by Rebecca Forand