Pioneering Duke vascular surgeon Richard McCann dies

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Richard McCann

Richard McCann, MD, a vascular surgeon who reinvented his skills after the endovascular revolution in the 1990s and implanted the first endograft for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has died.

Born in Portland, Maine, in 1948, McCann gained his medical degree from Cornell University in 1974. That was also the year he joined Duke as an intern—the start of a nearly five-decade career at the institution that saw him rise to become a professor of surgery.

“During his tenure at Duke, Dr. McCann became recognized as a superb surgeon in every domain,” the Duke University School of Medicine recorded in a memorial. “Technically, he mastered the anatomical exposure of vascular structures in all areas of the body with exceptional technical speed and efficiency. No vascular emergency was beyond his capability, and no patient or colleague was ever left without his immediate support to save both life and limb.”

Additionally, Duke highlighted how McCann had pioneered complex aortic surgery, using an array of both open and endovascular techniques—”demonstrating his surgical creativity and technical mastery.”

He was also active academically. McCann published more than 150 articles covering nearly every topic in vascular surgery. He served as the first chief of vascular surgery at Duke and the first program director of the institution’s vascular surgery fellowship program.

“As a man of few words, he made every spoken word important. Beyond Duke, as an ambassador and humanitarian, he donated his medical and surgical talent to care for patients in Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and, most notably, Haiti,” the Duke memorial added. “Duke Surgery, thousands of patients and hundreds of surgical trainees have benefited from Dr. McCann’s tireless efforts and surgical excellence.”

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