Origin and Development of Japanese Society of Phlebology

Shukichi Sakaguchi, M D.
Honorary President, Japanese Society of Phlebology
Professor Emeritus, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine


Phlebology has a long history, with references to it existing in ancient documents drawn up in the age of Hippocrates. Throughout succeeding ages, phlebologists who specialized in varicosity and thrombosis furthered the progress of this medical field, particularly in Europe.

The Union Internationale de Phlebologie, which was established in 1958 at the instigation of French phlebologists, gradually increased its membership. Currently, phlebologists from South American countries, the UK and North America participate in this Union which functions as the international center of phlebology. Representing Japan, the author participated in the general meeting of the Union held in Buenos Aires in 1977 and attended the directors' meeting, whereupon Japan was formally admitted to the Union Internationale de Phlebologie. At that time, there was no association of phlebologists in Japan due to the lack of a suitable environment where phlebologists in the true sense could learn and practice. Phlebology had been regarded as a minor part of surgery because vascular surgeons concomitantly played the role of phlebologists. In clinical practice, however, physicians encountered an increasing number of patients with venous disease. With this background, younger researchers proposed that a scientific association of phlebology would be established. In view of these domestic and overseas trends, researchers recognized the necessity to establish a Japanese association. In 1981, the Venous Disease Study Group was established and its first general meeting was held in Hamamatsu. A general meeting was held once a year in various places in Japan and the number of members steadily increased. In 1989, the name of the study group was changed to Japanese Society of Phlebology, and the new society started to publish a journal titled "Phlebology." Through these processes, the Japanese Society of Phlebology has strived to achieve its mission.

The activities of the Japanese Society of Phlebology are highly regarded by the members of the Union. In 1986, the 6th general meeting of the Union was held at the Kyoto International Convention Center; a total of 599 researchers including 390 foreign researchers participated in this meeting and gave as many as 290 presentations. Because no general meetings of the Union had been held in Asian countries before this, this meeting made many researchers recognize the necessity of studying phlebology.

Phlebology thus became established in Japan and was promoted by the Japanese Society of Phlebology and the International union, which publish their own journals. Unfortunately, most of the members of these scientific societies are surgeons. Like arteries, veins are involved in overall organ circulation and systemic circulation returning to the heart, and so the participation of researchers in various medical fields is indispensable for the evolution of phlebology. In Japan, the progress of venous reconstruction surgery following conventional resection of cancer in various organs is expected. There are also expectations for the introduction of interventional radiology in phlebology. In such a medical environment, Japaneses phlebologists need to take an interdisciplinary approach to provide important information for researchers around the world.