Remembering Josef Rösch

Prof. Josef Rösch was one of the great pioneers of interventional radiology, and one who continued to innovate throughout his long and fruitful career.

Born in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia (today the Czech Republic) in 1925, he earned his medical degree at Charles University in Prague in 1950 before completing his radiologic training at the Central Military Hospital in Prague. Dr. Rösch began his angiographic career with transparietal splenoportography in 1954, later adding visceral angiography. While in Prague, he wrote two monographs: Transparietal Splenoportography and Radiology of Spleen and Pancreas. The latter became a prime teaching book, and was translated into four languages. He became Doctor of Medical Sciences at Charles University in Prague in 1965, and Docent in 1966.

Josef Rösch was intimately connected with a moment that many consider to mark the birth of interventional radiology, serving as Secretary of the 1963 Czechoslovak Radiological Congress, where invited speaker Charles Dotter inspired the radiological community to reimagine angiography as a therapeutic procedure. His talk certainly inspired Dr. Rösch, who moved to the USA in 1967 to pursue this fledgling discipline following an invitation from Dr. Dotter himself.

Aside from a two-year visiting professorship at UCLA, Dr. Rösch worked at Oregon Health and Science University ever since. At OHSU, he served as Chief of Cardiovascular Radiology and, in the late 1980s, was instrumental in establishing the Dotter Interventional Institute, of which he was the Founding Director until 1993. Prof. Rösch retired from clinical practice in 1995, but continued to focus on research and education until his final days.

His research has covered diverse aspects of IR, from super-selective catheterisation techniques, visceral angiography and transjugular liver procedures to coronary angiography, fallopian tube recanalisation and expandable stents. An innovator in his field, Dr. Rösch developed the TIPS techniques in 1969, and introduced embolisation of gastrointestinal haemorrhage in 1972. In the 1980s, his research focused on the use of endoluminal prostheses, including their use in TIPS. His work helped introduce TIPS to clinical practice.

A prolific writer, Prof. Rösch authored or co-authored 493 scientific papers and book chapters, two books, and 23 scientific exhibits; contributed to 17 teaching films/videos and CDs; and served as co-editor of two books. Although based in North America, he played an active role in encouraging and supporting the IR community in central and Eastern Europe, and helped organise a great number of educational events, particularly in his native city of Prague. He is a fellow of both CIRSE and SIR, an honorary fellow of the ACR, a member of the RSNA and the American Heart Association, and an honorary member of many radiological societies worldwide.

His work has been recognised with many awards and honours, not least an OHSU research professorship, the Josef Rösch Chair of Interventional Radiology Research, and eponymous honorary lectures by both CIRSE and the Society of Interventional Radiology of the Czech Republic. However, it would not be unfair to say that these awards bestowed as much honour on the giver as the recipient – Josef Rösch was a true pioneer, inspiring successive generations with his hard work, inquisitive thinking and dedication to science. CIRSE is proud to have marked its 30th anniversary by bestowing its highest honour, the Gold Medal, upon so worthy a recipient in September 2015. We are deeply saddened to hear of his passing, and send our heartfelt condolences to his family, and his friends and colleagues in Portland and beyond.

"Present day interventionalists have a more defined clinical practice, with numerous established techniques, tools and devices to select from. Despite this, interventionalists should always be thinking about potential improvements in present procedures or developing new techniques. An innovative, creative mind must be an integral part of every interventionalist.” - Josef Rösch