A Brief History of Orthopedic Medicine

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A Brief History of Orthopedic Medicine

Orthopedic medicine has helped millions of people throughout the years. While it may seem like a relatively new concept, orthopedic care has been around since the 1700s. Adults have 206 bones in their bodies, so this area of medicine is naturally something that affects us all. Read on to learn more about the history of orthopedic medicine.

The 1700s

1741 – The word orthopaedics is now defined as “the branch of surgery broadly concerned with the skeletal system (bones).” Over time many people have dropped the letter “a” from the word, although that is technically incorrect and would relate only to the foot. The correctly spelled word was first coined in a textbook by French professor Nicolas Andry.

1780 – The world’s first orthopedic institute is established in Orbe, Switzerland by Jean-André Venel. During the 1700s and 1800s the field of orthopaedics was primarily about treating skeletal deformities in children.

The 1800s

1851 – The plaster of Paris cast is invented by a Dutch military surgeon named Antonius Mathijsen. The cast provided a good method of fixing broken bones to allow them to heal properly.

1834 to 1891 – The father of orthopaedic surgery in Britain, Hugh Owen Thomas, invented:

  • The Thomas Splint to stabilize a fractured femur and prevent infection
  • Thomas’s collar to treat tuberculosis of the cervical spine
  • Thomas’s manoeuvre, an orthopedic investigation for fracture of the hip joint
  • The Thomas test, a method of detecting hip deformity by having the patient lie flat in bed
  • Thomas’s wrench for reducing fractures

The 1900s

1939 – German surgeon Gerhard Küntscher invents a method of healing bone fractures with the use of an internal fixation device to “maintain the position of the fracture fragments during healing.”

1951 – Gavriil Abramovich Ilizarov invents the Ilizarovapparatus, which is still being used to lengthen or reshape limb bones today.

1960s – Sir John Charnley of England pioneered the modern total hip replacement using a Teflon socket.

Orthopedic Surgery in Phoenix

At Banner CORE Center for Orthopedics we are the premier medical destination for patients requiring orthopedic care. We offer a full range of orthopedic treatments including:

  • Orthopedic sports medicine
  • Joint replacement
  • Foot and ankle reconstruction
  • Fracture management

Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.