Dr. Theodore Reed III, 77, obstetrician, gynecologist, invented the colposcope

August 20, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun Staff

Dr. Theodore P. Reed III, a noted obstetrician and gynecologist, died Monday from complications of surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 77 and lived in Easton.

Dr. Reed developed nonoperative office sterilization techniques for women and invented the portable colposcope that is used to detect uterine and cervical cancer.

He delivered more than 3,000 babies during a career that began in 1950, said his wife of 54 years, the former Naomi M. Geisenhoner.

In the 1970s, Dr. Reed developed a method of blocking the fallopian tubes with a minute amount of silicone rubber that was injected inside the tubes through an instrument called a hysteroscope. The procedure was performed without hospitalization.

The traditional method of sterilizing women is a tubal ligation, requiring an incision and general anesthesia.

"It was called the `lunch time sterilization' because it could be done in the doctor's office and the patient could return home or work," said Mrs. Reed.

"It was a very safe procedure that called for a high degree of skill that most doctors didn't have," said Dr. Clifford R. Wheeless Jr., director of the Institute of Pelvic Surgery at Sinai Hospital and a friend for many years.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Reed invented the colposcope, which resembled binoculars and had a battery-powered light source. The device allowed the physician to examine the cervix and was more accurate than a pap smear.

"The colposcope allowed a magnification of seven times and pinpointed exactly where the physician should take the biopsy," said Dr. Wheeless.

He said the instrument, which could be carried in a physician's pocket, could have wide application in the Third World or other impoverished areas where more expensive equipment was both unavailable and expensive.

Dr. Reed was head of the Colposcopic Clinic at Union Memorial Hospital, where he also taught residents in obstetrics and gynecology, from 1986 to 1996 when he retired a second time.

He had retired in 1986 from Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia, where he had been chief of gynecology since 1974.

He began his career at Lankenau in 1952 after serving as a captain in the Army Medical Corps for two years during the Korean conflict.

Though he was average in height and soft-spoken, with a shock of white hair and rimless glasses, Dr. Reed had a commanding presence.

As a teacher, he was held in high esteem by several generations of residents at Lankenau and Union Memorial.

"His whole focus was in improvement for the individual patient and he made us aware of that," said Dr. Verda Hunter, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Kansas City, Mo., and a former student at Union Memorial.

"I consider him one of my mentors," said Dr. Charles Dunton, associate professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. "He had tremendous clinical skills, a highly innovative mind and a wonderful rapport with his patients.

"He affected his students and residents. You learned because of Ted Reed. He had the ultimate patience and would carefully explain over and over again until you understood what he was talking about," he said.

Peggy LeBrun, an administrative assistant to Dr. Wheeless, described Dr. Reed as an "extremely modest man who didn't have a big ego."

Dr. Reed, was born in Pennington, N.J., and earned premedical and medical degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and completed training in obstetrics and gynecology at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Indiana.

He was an avid sailor and widely read. "He was a Renaissance man," said Dr. Wheeless. "He was a fine fellow, a friend, a lover of life and a good sailor."

Dr. Reed's professional memberships included the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Pennsylvania Medical Society, Philadelphia College of Physicians, American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology and the Baltimore Obstetrical Society.

He was a member of the Talbot Country Club, Tred Avon Yacht Club, Penn Club and the Philadelphia Corinthian Yacht Club.

He was a communicant of the Presbyterian Church of Easton, 617 N. Washington St., where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Theodore P. Reed IV of Carbondale, Colo.; a sister, Betty R. Riewerts of Bergenfield, N.J.; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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