17:04 PM

How modern medicine was made, part 5: The history of orthopedic surgery and organ transplantation

Medical Economics highlights the history of orthopedic surgery and organ transplantation in an interview with Michael P. Ast, MD, hip and knee surgeon and Chief Medical Innovation Officer at HSS.

Historians have traced how 19th century surgeons developed the foundation of 20th century orthopedics. By 1923, doctors were adept at using plaster of Paris to immobilize limbs and x-ray machines could see broken bones underneath the skin.

Even so, doctors sometimes had to treat patients with the methods known to the ancients: Identify a fracture, stretch and straighten the limb to align the ends of broken bones, and make a splint. Open breaks carried serious risks of blood loss and infection.

“If you think about what orthopedics was 100 years ago, it was plaster and sticks and casts and traction. That was it,” said Michael P. Ast, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and chief medical innovation officer at HSS. Founded in 1863, HSS is the oldest orthopedic hospital in the nation.

“If you go back two generations, a broken hip — everyone says, how did your grandma die? She died of a broken hip. I mean, you can’t die from breaking a bone right?” Dr. Ast said.

“But what happens is that because we didn't have a way to fix them reliably, these patients would be unable to walk,” Dr. Ast explained. “They would be bed-bound, and then bad things happen when older patients are bed-bound. They get bed sores, they get infections, they get pneumonia, and then, unfortunately, that doesn't end well.”

Read the full article at medicaleconomics.com.