Arthur I. Gilbert, M.D.
Arthur I. Gilbert, M.D, surgeon emeritus of The Hernia Institute of Florida, founded the Institute in the 1985, and was the Director and Chief of Surgery until 2002. Dr. Gilbert is a lifelong resident of Dade County. He graduated from Miami Beach High School, attended Tulane University in New Orleans, and received his Medical Degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine, where he completed his residency in general surgery. He is a volunteer Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He has served on the South Miami Hospital Board of Governors and has been president of its medical staff. He was South Miami Hospital’s “Person of the Year” in 1995.
In the early 1980’s, after practicing general surgery for several years, Dr. Gilbert grew increasingly interested in the problem of abdominal wall hernias and limited his practice to hernia surgery, becoming one of the first surgeons in the world devoted to the field of “Herniology”. As an innovative thinker, Dr. Gilbert was convinced that there had to be an easier way to solve the hernia problem. Realizing the complexity of the anatomy of the groin area, often misunderstood by many surgeons, Dr. Gilbert traveled to many places such as Padua in Italy to review historical concepts on the anatomy and repair of hernias. He searched the literature and studied the early anatomical descriptions of Henri Fruchaud, whose depiction of the natural openings in the inguinal area anatomy changed the way surgeons approached the repair of groin hernias. He also traveled to Toronto, Canada to study the Shouldice procedure, a unique technique requiring extensive training, done with sutures only and produced excellent results. In particular, he was impressed that the hernias were repaired under local anesthesia, a novel concept that was a great advantage over general anesthesia, which was used by all surgeons in the past.
He solicited the opinions of many world renowned surgeons, and organized the first “International Hernia Congress” held in Miami in 1983. Despite many detractors who said there was no need for a specialty for the “simple” problem of hernias, Dr. Gilbert was determined to advance the field of Herniology with the collaboration of other experts. Through his efforts and organizational skills, in 1998, the invited surgeons subsequently formed the American Hernia Society, modeled after the European Hernia Society. Dr. Gilbert was a founding member and the first president. Dr. Gilbert also described a classification of hernias that is the basis for the classifications used worldwide. In his career Dr. Gilbert performed more than 22,000 hernias.
Dr. Gilbert’s studies led him to advances in the technique of hernia repair. Realizing that suture repairs had an unacceptably high rate of recurrence of 10 to 20 percent, he began studying mesh repair techniques using a tension free concept as recommended by his close friend and colleague, Dr. Irving Lichtenstein. This dramatically reduced recurrence rates to less than five percent, but he was determined to further improve outcomes. In 1997, he proposed the concept of placing mesh both behind and in front of the hernia opening. He designed the Prolene Hernia System, a bilayer connected device which is now being used by surgeons all over the world, and in over 12,000 cases at the Hernia Institute. Surgeons from around the country and the world have attended the “Advanced Herniorrhaphy” Seminars that the Hernia Institute has conducted over the years.
Dr. Gilbert has authored numerous articles on herniology, including surgical literature, and textbooks. He has lectured at many surgical meetings and medical schools. During his career, Dr. Gilbert repaired more than 22,000 hernias. He is currently retired from the active practice of surgery, but continues to advance the teaching of Herniology by lecturing, writing articles, and moderating pod-casts on the Internet. Dr. Gilbert has been the recipient of many honors and awards during his career, including the First Distinguished Service Award from the American Hernia Society, and remains a world renowned herniologist.