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Interventional Radiology

A salute to Dr. Josef Rösch

Dr. Josef Rösch*

Dr. Josef Rösch, who pioneered important new medical techniques and interventional procedures, passed away early this year at the age of 91. Some of his innovations include the use of embolization to control gastrointestinal bleeding and the transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) procedure.

“Cook has had the pleasure and the wonderful opportunity to work with this great pioneer of interventional radiology. Josef’s kind demeanor and unyielding passion for improving patient care were truly inspirational and will be an example to all.”

—Rick Mellinger, vice president, global marketing, Cook Medical

Dr. Rösch began his career in Prague, Czech Republic, where he performed his first angiographic procedure in 1954. Modern angiography had begun only a year earlier in Sweden, when Dr. Sven Seldinger introduced percutaneous arteriography. (Read more about Dr. Seldinger.)

In a video presentation1, Dr. Rösch shared his memories of the early days of interventional radiology:

“My first angiographic technique in 1954 was transparietal splenoportography, which is visualizing the portal venous system, using contrast material injected directly into the spleen.”


Dr. Rösch's fluoroscopic table from 1954.

Dr. Rösch’s fluoroscopic table from 1954. Photo used by permission.

“Our angiographic equipment was quite primitive, a fluoroscopic table with X-ray slides that were manually pushed through. We practiced the procedure with the lights on and then did the actual procedure in the dark. Everything was simplified in 1957 when we received a dedicated angiographic room with a film changer.”

Watch portions of Dr. Rösch’s video.

A historic partnership

During his 12 years in Prague, Dr. Rösch wrote two books, created two teaching movies, and wrote 60 scientific papers. The first American who asked for a reprint of Dr. Rösch’s paper on splenoportography was Dr. Charles T. Dotter, in 1959. Dr. Rösch sent the article to Dr. Dotter, and they became pen pals and colleagues, working together to create 27 scientific papers.

In 1963, Dr. Dotter visited Prague for a large worldwide conference and presented a talk entitled “Cardiac catheterization and angiographic techniques of the future,” which in the words of Dr. Rösch “planted the seeds of interventional radiology.” Read more about Dr. Dotter.

In 1965, Dr. Dotter invited Dr. Rösch to Oregon for a one-year fellowship at the University of Oregon Medical School in Portland. Dr. Rösch was then invited by UCLA to teach there on a fellowship. In 1969, Russia invaded Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) and Dr. Rösch and his family decided to stay in America, though they were sad to leave their homeland behind.

Dr. Dotter soon lured Dr. Rösch back to Portland, where he accepted a permanent position on the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) faculty, and where he continued to work until his death.

Dr. Rösch was the first author or co-author of 495 published articles or book chapters. He was also an inventor and co-authored 12 patents. He was a respected and beloved mentor to young doctors throughout his life.

The creation of the Dotter Interventional Institute

In April, 1989, Bill Cook, founder of Cook Medical, spoke at the “Charles Dotter Memorial Days event” celebrating the life of Dr. Dotter, who died in 1985. During his speech, Cook announced Cook Medical’s significant financial contribution to OHSU to launch the Dotter Interventional Institute. The goals of the institute were to promote interventional education and research and to provide the highest-quality interventional treatment to patients.

Dr. Rösch became the founding director of the Dotter Institute, and his career at OHSU spanned more than 40 years. The Dotter Institute will hold a celebration of Dr. Rösch’s life on March 31, 2016. Read OHSU’s notice of Dr. Rösch’s passing.

Three Dotter Interventional Institute directors: Dr. John Kaufman, the current director; Dr. Frederick Keller, past director; and Dr. Josef Rösch, founding director; in front of a plaque depicting Dr. Charles T. Dotter.

Three Dotter Interventional Institute directors pose in front of a plaque depicting Dr. Charles T. Dotter: Dr. John Kaufman, the current director; Dr. Frederick Keller, past director; and Dr. Josef Rösch, founding director. Photo used by permission.


The Dotter Interventional Institute continues to further the scope of interventional treatment.

“Dr. Rösch was very patient, soft-spoken, and kind. He was able to find simple and elegant solutions to complex problems, and his name is on several of our products. He had the original vision of what the Dotter Institute could be, and he was the key person that drew people there to study.”

—Tom Osborne, senior vice president, intellectual property growth and development, Cook Medical

“Dr. Rösch was a true legend in the field of interventional radiology. His impact, both at OHSU and internationally, will not soon be forgotten.”

—John Kaufman, MD, MS, director, Dotter Institute and Frederick S. Keller Professor of Interventional Radiology, OHSU School of Medicine.2

 Memorable sayings from Dr. Rösch

Dr. Frederick Keller, past director of the Dotter Institute, worked closely with Dr. Rösch and recalls some of his favorite Dr. Rösch sayings:


—Dr. Josef Rösch—


What is a TIPS procedure?


Dr. Frederick Keller and Dr. John Kaufman are paid consultants of Cook Medical.

*Portrait of Dr. Rösch by Keith Kline, Cook Medical

  1. Dr. Josef Rösch, “How it All Started: Personal Memories,” a video presentation for the IGI 50 meeting in Portland, OR, 2014.
  1. “In Memoriam: Josef Rösch, MD (1925-2016)