J. Byron Gathright, Jr.

1989 to 1990

St. Mark said "for you have the poor with you always." Alas, for you poor people today, the Presidential Address appears equally as permanent a fixture. In this, the 91st year of our organization, it appears that only one man has spared his audience. I shall not be the second.

Presidential addresses have run the gamut from scholarly scientific papers, attempts to foretell the future, predictions about the fate of our specialty, both gloomy and bright, exhortations as to what we could and should do for the specialty, philosophic looks at the past and our debt to our predecessors, to last year's eloquent plea for unity around the globe for those practicing our discipline. These addresses were sources of inspiration and consternation for me. What would hold the interest of this diverse group? Perhaps a summation of the current status of the one central interest that binds all of us together. The specialty of colon and rectal surgery.

Vital signs: vital from the latin wita alis, of life. Defined as existing as a manifestation of life. Thus, the signs of life. I should like, as a good chief resident might, to recite for you, the vital signs of the specialty of colon and rectal surgery.