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Surgical advances during the First World War: the birth of modern orthopaedics
  1. Arul Ramasamy1,2,
  2. W G P Eardley2,3,
  3. D S Edwards1,2,
  4. J C Clasper1,4 and
  5. M P M Stewart5
  1. 1The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2Army Medical Directorate, Surrey, UK
  3. 3Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, James Cook University Hospital MDHU (N), Middlesborough, UK
  4. 4Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, MDHU(FP), Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Surrey, UK
  5. 5Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesborough, UK
  1. Correspondence to Maj Arul Ramasamy, Army Medical Directorate, Slim Road, Camberley, Surrey, UK, GU15 4NL; arul49{at}


The First World War (1914–1918) was the first truly industrial conflict in human history. Never before had rifle fire and artillery barrage been employed on a global scale. It was a conflict that over 4 years would leave over 750 000 British troops dead with a further 1.6 million injured, the majority with orthopaedic injuries. Against this backdrop, the skills of the orthopaedic surgeon were brought to the fore. Many of those techniques and systems form the foundation of modern orthopaedic trauma management. On the centenary of ‘the War to end all Wars’, we review the significant advances in wound management, fracture treatment, nerve injury and rehabilitation that were developed during that conflict.

  • military history

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