At the recent Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology (SCVIR) meeting in San Diego, we heard an impassioned plea for a name change for the society from Frederick Keller, MD, at the annual Dotter lecture. His points were well reasoned and his logic sound. I have sat at many a local interventional club meeting here in Chicago bemoaning the very same substantial issues. At the 25-year anniversary of the SCVIR, surely the time is ripe for a reassessment and, if need be, a new direction. I listened enchanted throughout his discourse to his final remarks and was so enthralled I nearly tumbled off the edge with his erroneous conclusion.

Many are the sources of envy among interventional radiologists: the overwhelming intrusive hordes of interventional cardiologists with their strong hospital administrative support, the vascular surgeons with their newly awakened interest in percutaneous procedures, and even other disciplines such as urology and gastroenterology that have borrowed so heavily from our techniques and devices. I have watched the brotherhood rage against these name brands, feeling vastly outnumbered and inadequate. The lack of medical and lay press coverage is met with the perennial sigh of “Why won’t they notice me?” Dr Robert Vogelzang’s remark that even his own mother does not understand what he does echoes the sentiments of 3,000 physicians craving recognition and validation for pioneering minimally invasive therapies in the ’80s and ’90s. Keller’s proposal for dispensing with the term interventional radiology and to begin calling ourselves minimally invasive surgeons (MIS) is not a solution but a problem all of us need to take a look at.

Some advocate renaming the specialty after some form of endovascular surgery in the misguided hope that we will be elevated in the esteem of our peers, patients, vendors, and the lay press. I would propose that not only will this fail miserably, but lose us the ground it has taken 25 years to gain. I have struggled to provide the best medical care I can in my hospital, and I am proud and pleased to say that most of the smarter referring physicians use our services on a regular basis. They know where we are and what we can do. The section of interventional radiology was developed patient by patient, lecture by lecture, resident by rotating resident, not by administrative decree or advertising campaign. I am not at all interested in joining the surgical staff. Calling oneself a surgeon of any kind would also imply a desire to subject oneself to state and national surgical societies’ rule and policies, not a minor concession. As pretenders to a discipline without the requisite training, we would be roundly mocked and deservedly so. Are we not the society that demands the highest standards for what we provide? How then to define ourselves as surgeons without benefit of even the most basic of that type of training? I have no wish to be thought of as a poseur: I am what I am, an interventional radiologist.

As for dropping the “cardiac” from the society name, many precedents would suggest that simplification is an effective method for improving recognition. The Society of Interventional Radiology. Simple. Stylish. Besides, a change that results in being called SIR instead of “skivver” has obvious public relations merit. Yes, call me SIR has a definite ring to it.

I implore my colleagues to take the longer view. We are just on the very first leg of this journey. We are young as a specialty, and, like teenagers, impatient for our due. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we have been flattered by the best! Our reputations are growing, not as surgeons or cardiologists, but as interventional radiologists. I am proud of it and you should be, too.

Richard Messersmith, MD, is an interventional radiologist at Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, IL.