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History of Orthopaedic Trauma at UMMC

  • By Robert McGuire, MD, M. Beckett Howorth Professor Orthopaedic Surgery and President of AO Foundation

Orthopedics and trauma-related activities have been a part of the Mississippi landscape for many years. Dr. Alan Freeland chronicled this very well in his 2017 book, From Hippocrates to HIPAA. Orthopedic surgeons with roots in Mississippi have contributed significantly throughout the years with innovative surgical techniques, instrumentation and education that have improved fracture management with better outcomes for our patients.

Willis C. Campbell, born in Jackson in 1861, founded the Campbell Clinic in Memphis and his fracture treatments, both surgical and non-surgical, well documented in, Campbell's Operative Orthopedics, have educated thousands of surgeons, both nationally and internationally.  Dr. H. Lowry Rush of Meridian invented the Rush Rods which many of us have used to treat diaphyseal long bone fractures.  Dr. Thomas H. Blake, Sr was an inaugural member of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and started orthopedic surgery training in Mississippi when he initiated an ABOS-approved training program in pediatric orthopedics at the Baptist Hospital in the 1940s. He was also the first director of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery at the newly formed School of Medicine in 1955.

Dr. William Enneking became the first chairman of the Division of Orthopaedics at UMMC and initialed the University residency program with a single resident in 1955.  He was the first to lobby for autonomy for the Department but that was not completed until after the arrival of Dr James L Hughes.  During this time, many of the fractures were managed with casting techniques which immobilized the extremity in plaster resulting in muscle atrophy and joint stiffness that had to be addressed separately once the fracture had healed.

Dr. Hughes' training in Europe allowed him to bring innovative AO techniques of fracture management to Mississippi.  These AO Principles of internal rigid and anatomic fracture alignment, preservation of blood supply, and early range of motion and rehabilitation with return of function changed the paradigm of orthopedic trauma management in Mississippi.  These techniques minimized the risk of joint stiffness and muscle atrophy that casting techniques previously afforded.

Dr. Hughes lobbied and finally achieved departmental autonomy in 1987 where he continued his innovative approach to education in fracture management.  He was one of the inaugural members of the AO North America organization designed to champion the AO techniques and provide orthopedic education with the most up-to-date methods to surgeons nationally.  He actively recruited young, energetic, academic-oriented orthopedic surgeons with visions for research and teaching.  He partnered with the biomechanical division creating a group to test and modify implants to be used in fracture management.  His "young guns" participated in multicentered national studies on minimally invasive rigid fixation techniques of long bones, spinal fractures, early computer-assisted virtual education, sports medicine, and hand fracture management. Former chief George Russell has become a national leader in the treatment of pelvis and acetabular injuries and Matt Graves is internationally recognized for his innovative techniques of adult orthopaedic trauma education and treatment of pilon fractures.  The trauma team now consists of surgeons specialized in the management and reconstruction of extremity trauma, hip and pelvis, foot and ankle, shoulder and hand.  This group continues to be highly productive in trauma research and routinely publishes its findings in high-quality peer-reviewed publications.

Through the leadership of Dr. Hughes, Dr. McGuire, Dr. Russell and Dr. Graves, the Department of Orthopedics continues to be one of the most innovative residency and fellowship programs nationally in the field of orthopaedic trauma.

Edited 4/30/2024