History

A history of advancing surgery

It all started with a simple question: What if...?

What if there was a better way to help patients heal after surgery? What if we could improve their lives? What if we could change the way surgery was done forever? And in doing so, change the world for the better?

More than 80 years ago, the first group of Ethicon scientists and researchers started to think about healing in a new way. Their questions led to pioneering sutures that advanced surgeons' work and discoveries that enhanced patients' lives.

Today, we produce much more than sutures. Working with our customers and partners, we bring meaningful solutions to every area we touch.

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1886

Johnson & Johnson

Three brothers, Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson, found Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.

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1887

Sterile Suture

Johnson & Johnson’s mass production of sterile sutures – along with surgical dressings, cotton and gauze – ushered in the widespread practice of modern antiseptic surgery that dramatically raised survival rates.

1953

Ethicon, Inc.

Ethicon Suture Laboratories became Ethicon Inc.

1960

SURGICEL®

SURGICEL® made history as the first oxidized regenerated cellulose hemostat and set a new standard for managing surgical bleeding – helping to minimize blood loss. Over 50 years of proven efficacy and safety, SURGICEL is the gold standard of topical absorbable hemostats.

FACTOID: SURGICEL has been used in 100 million procedures.

1969

PROLENE® Polypropylene Suture

The first synthetic sterile suture, PROLENE® Polypropylene Suture remains the gold standard for cardiac bypass surgery for its strength, secure knotting and biocompatibility.

1978

PROXIMATE® Disposable Skin Stapler

This game-changing skin stapler introduced disposable instruments to the OR. Smaller and lighter than reusables, the PROXIMATE® disposable skin stapler was preloaded for easier use at less cost. The success of disposable PROXIMATE opened the door to new innovations for open and minimally invasive procedures.

Proximate Displosable Skin Stapler
1979

Coated VICRYL® (polyglactin 910) Suture

Adding a coating to absorbable, polymer-based VICRYL® (polyglactin 910) Suture, introduced in 1974, Ethicon shifted the global suture market. Preferred by surgeons around the world today for general surgery use, Coated VICRYL® (polyglactin 910) Suture balances the surgeon’s need for slide with knot security in achieving reliable approximation and closure.

FACTOID: Innovations like VICRYL Suture have helped cement Ethicon’s position as the worldwide leader in sutures.

Vicryl
1988

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

With the first minimally invasive gallbladder removal, Ethicon forged ahead to maximize the transforming potential of laparoscopic procedures. The company quickly began working with leading surgeons to identify minimally invasive surgical solutions and, within six years, became the market leader in EndoMechanical devices.

1991

LIGACLIP® Endoscopic Clip Appliers

The holding power of these groundbreaking fully automatic, reloading endoscopic multiple clip appliers helped to give surgeons the confidence to adopt minimally invasive approaches. The LIGACLIP ERCA, with its rotating capabilities, remains the gold standard for laparoscopic cholecystectomy since 1991.

1992

Ethicon Endo-Surgery

Dedicated to procedure-enabling innovations for minimally invasive surgery, we accelerated worldwide adoption of these approaches – from laparoscopic cholecystectomy to an ever-widening array of surgical challenges. Our breakthroughs have helped to shift the site of care, speed patient recovery and enable surgeons to treat previously untreatable conditions.

1992

Endo-Surgery Institute

The opening of our first Endo-Surgery Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, launched our world-class professional education program to broaden mastery of minimally invasive surgery. Today, we advance surgical knowledge and technique in multiple international Institutes, at clinical conventions and online.

FACTOID: ESI trained 3,649 doctors and 586 sales representatives its first year.

1995

Telesurgery

Our pioneering live telesurgery at the American College of Surgeons’ annual meeting introduced clinicians to the possibilities of distance learning. A standing-room-only crowd of doctors witnessed the real-time broadcast from an off-site operating room where Dr. J. Barry McKernan performed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

1998

HARMONIC® Shears

Our launch of the first 5mm HARMONIC® shears allowed surgeons for the first time to dissect, cut and coagulate with one ultrasonic energy device that could also reduce thermal damage and preserve tissue function.

FACTOID: By 2009, HARMONIC technology had been used in 10 million procedures.

1998

DERMABOND® Topical Skin Adhesive

The first FDA-approved topical skin adhesive in the U.S., DERMABOND® Topical Skin Adhesive paved the way for replacing sutures with a new generation of skin closure solutions. DERMABOND Adhesive protects incisions with a microbial barrier, while reducing pain and scarring and offering improved cosmetic results compared with sutures.

DERMABOND
1998

VYPRO® Mesh

This lightweight mesh for incisional hernia repair featured a design with bigger pores and greater flexibility to conform to the human body. Designed for improved comfort, healing and repair outcomes, VYPRO® Mesh and subsequent ULTRAPRO® Partially Absorbable Lightweight Mesh rapidly became and remain leaders in hernia repair meshes since 1998.

2000

Fighting Obesity

Entering the new millennium, we committed to an ongoing multi-front assault against obesity. Our investment has produced groundbreaking research in metabolic science, advanced bariatric surgery training and standards through partnership with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, advocated for increased patient access to bariatric solutions, and created innovative devices to enable new surgical approaches.

2003

Coated VICRYL® Plus Antibacterial (polyglactin 910) Suture

The first commercially available antibacterial suture, Coated VICRYL® Plus Antibacterial (polyglactin 910) Suture broke new ground in reducing surgical-site infections (SSI) by preventing bacterial colonization of the suture.

FACTOID: In its first 10 years, Coated VICRYL Plus Suture touched more than 85 million lives around the world.

2004

ENDOPATH XCEL® Bladeless Trocar

Surgeons quickly adopted the first bladeless trocar that allowed frequent instrument exchanges through a small incision that did not require closing. The novel design of the ENDOPATH® XCEL™ Bladeless Trocar also introduced an unobstructed view for insertion.

2005

PROCEED® Surgical Mesh

PROCEED® Surgical Mesh led the way for the use of absorbable tissue-separating barriers and was designed to improve outcomes for ventral hernia repair by minimizing both tissue attachment to the mesh and the implant mass remaining in the body.

2005

CONTOUR® Curved Cutter Stapler

This unique, first-of-its-kind curved stapler gave surgeons new visibility and easier access in the lower pelvis. CONTOUR® Curved Cutter Stapler has become the gold standard for low-anterior resections.

CONTOUR Curved Cutter Stapler
2008

EVICEL® Fibrin Sealant

The only fibrin sealant approved, at that time, for general hemostasis in surgery, EVICEL® Fibrin Sealant offered surgeons a new tool to control bleeding when standard surgical techniques were ineffective or impractical. EVICEL Fibrin Sealant produced a quick-setting clot that formed independent of the patient’s ability to achieve coagulation.

Important Safety Information
EVICEL Fibrin Sealant
2010

ETHICON SECURESTRAP® Absorbable Strap Fixation Device

The first fixation device to feature a unique absorbable "strap" design using two points of fixation, ETHICON SECURESTRAP® Absorbable Strap Fixation Device offers surgeons superior holding strength at multiple angles to secure a variety of meshes in laparoscopic hernia repair. Surgeons’ immediate positive response to this device prompted the 2014 release of a version for open surgery to deliver a portfolio of essential procedural solutions for hernia repair.

2011

ECHELON FLEX™ Powered ENDOPATH® Stapler

Our ECHELON FLEX™ Powered ENDOPATH® Stapler made control and precision in laparoscopic procedures accessible to more surgeons with its easy setup and effortless, powered firing that removed the impact of hand strength or size during use. This first powered endocutter with system-wide compression and stability helped to fuel the revolution to minimally invasive approaches. Less unwanted movement of the tip offered the potential for reduced trauma to vital structures, even in thick tissue and at awkward angles.

FACTOID: In their first year, ECHELON FLEX Powered ENDOPATH Staplers were used in nearly 50,000 cases worldwide.

ECHELON FLEX Powered ENDOPATH Stapler
2014

EVARREST® Fibrin Sealant Patch

Dubbed a “super hemostat,” EVARREST® Fibrin Sealant Patch featured a unique combination of two biologics and two biomaterials engineered to rapidly and reliably help surgeons stop bleeding in problematic situations when conventional methods are ineffective. Uncontrolled bleeding during surgery poses a significant challenge to surgeons and can lead to increased mortality.

Important Safety Information
EVARREST Fibrin Sealant Patch
2014

HARMONIC ACE®+ 7 Shears with Advanced Hemostasis

The first purely ultrasonic device with a 7mm sealing indication, the breakthrough HARMONIC ACE®+ 7 Shears with Advanced Hemostasis combined the precision and multi-functionality expected of HARMONIC® technology with reliable sealing for large vessels. This dual-duty instrument allowed surgeons to stay focused on the procedure without the distraction of instrument exchanges.

2014

Ethicon

United under one powerful global brand to offer our customers the full breadth of our innovative platforms, Ethicon creates value that ultimately benefits millions of patients around the world.

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