Namir Katkhouda, M.D.
Chief, Division of Emergency Non Trauma
and Minimally Invasive Surgery
Dr. Katkhouda, an international leader in the field of minimally invasive surgery,
pioneered the development of laparoscopic ulcer operations, called vagotomies. He
served as vice chairman, Department of Surgery, and chief of Surgical Endoscopy at the
Hospital St. Roch, University of Nice School of Medicine, Nice, France before joining USC
as associate professor of Surgery, Chief of the Division of Outpatient and Minimally
Invasive Surgery, and director of the Minimally Invasive Surgery Program at USC University
Dr. Katkhouda has authored numerous peer review articles and book chapters that
document several advances in minimally invasive surgery, and in December 1994 published a
book, "Principles of Laparoscopic Surgery: Basic and Advanced Techniques" (Springer
Verlag, New York). This text covers the range of laparoscopic principles, from
the basic instrumentation to the critical review of complications to descriptions of
advanced procedures. The book also includes other areas such as urology,
obstetrics/gynecology and thoracic surgery.
New Field is Born
Dr. Katkhouda's own experience chronicles the birth and subsequent growth of this
emerging field. In France, he closely followed the initial developments, and soon
became a participant. He background sheds light on the excitement these techniques
generated less than a decade ago. "Minimally invasive surgical techniques had
their origin with two of my friends - Dr. Phillippe Mouret and Dr. Francois Dubois,"
Dr. Katkhouda recalls. "In March 1987, Dr. Mouret had done the first
laparoscopic cholecystectomy, an extraordinary procedure that was not widely publicized at
the time. A few months later, Dr. Dubois was performing an operation through mini
laparotomies and, in passing, asked his OR team, 'I wonder who can do this better?'
His new nurse who had worked with Dr. Mouret only a few months before, replied that Dr.
Mouret had operated on a man without making larger incisions. Dr. Dubois immediately
phoned Dr. Mouret to learn more about the operation."
According to Dr. Katkhouda, the two set up a private meeting and shared their
knowledge. Dr, Mouret had initially performed the procedure using traditional
surgical instruments and incision locations. Dr. Dubois believed this approach could
be improved and introduced the trocar concept for laparoscopic cholecystectomy. In
addition, while Dr. Mouret did the first procedure with a one-handed techniques, holding a
camera in one hand similar to a gynecologist, Dr. Dubois was the first to describe the
reproduction of open surgery techniques in minimally invasive surgery - holding the
surgical instruments with two hands. These innovations, which standardized the
minimally invasive surgical approach, were Dr. Dubois' contributions to the field, and he
subsequently published the first scientific piece on the technique in the Annals of
Through the internal network of surgeons in France, Dr. Katkhouda learned about the
laparoscopic cholecystectomy before it became widely publicized. He traveled from
Nice, where he was practicing, to Paris to observe one of Dr. Dubois' initial cases.
"I felt fortunate to be among the first to witness what was truly an
event," he says. "No one was speaking about the operation at the time, and
we were among the few to see it. As Dr. Dubois performed the laparoscopic
cholecystectomy, I remember thinking, 'How will he extract the gall bladder from the
umbilicus?' When I saw the gall bladder being actually removed, it seemed like the
birth of a child. I was amazed.