Prof. Dirk A. Loose M.D.
Consultant Surgeon
Specialist in vascular medicine


How a career became a calling

As a young vascular surgeon at the Dusseldorf Surgical University Hospital, I was one day confronted with the angiopathies of a 7-year-old girl. This meant that the leg, which suffered from dreadful congenital vascular defects, would have to be amputated. My boss at the time, Prof. Karl Kremer M.D., gave me the task of overseeing the treatment of the little patient.

Through my research into the condition, in 1973 I got to know Prof. Dr. Stefan Belov from Sofia in Bulgaria, who at the time was already one of the pioneers in the treatment of congenital vascular defects. Off the back of this consultation, a treatment concept for the girl was developed, meaning that we were able to save her leg. This incident had a profound impact on me, and a permanent influence on my subsequent career.

The contact with Prof. Belov developed into an intensive long-term collaboration and friendship. Together we developed and published the first generally accepted principles for the description, diagnosis and treatment of congenital vascular defects. Together with other international specialists we were also able to present the so-called “Hamburger Klassifikation” [Hamburg Classification] in 1988, at a consensus conference, which has now become internationally recognised and which was confirmed by the Classification of the International Society for the Study of Vascular Anomalies (ISSVA) of 2014 and supplemented in 2018.

Furthermore, the prescribed treatment principles are now consistently applied in several European centres for vascular surgery. Following observation periods of more than 30 years, the same, extremely positive long-term results have been achieved in all centres involved.

In spite of this significant progress, the field of congenital vascular malformation is still considered a minor, niche discipline in medical circles, with just a few specialists worldwide carrying out detailed work in the field. I therefore consider it crucial that I press deeper into the knowledge that I have acquired and – much more importantly – that I broaden this knowledge. After all, people frequently come to me that have already been on an extremely long and challenging journey, having been sent from one doctor to the next without actually receiving basic help.

I myself have now treated more than 3,200 patients with congenital vascular malformations and have successfully performed more than 6,000 operations. I want to give people hope – especially the parents of affected children. For it is, in particular, early diagnosis during childhood that offers very good treatment options and a good chance of success.