OTI

Ghent University orthopaedists known for osteosynthesis, meniscus, spine advances

Their international collaborations and training have produced many influential orthopaedic leaders.
Pioneers

The orthopaedic surgery tradition at Ghent University in Belgium includes several decades of contributions from orthopaedic and surgical leaders and key developments related to osteosynthesis, shoulder biomechanics, scoliosis treatment and meniscal transplantation.

“In Europe, Ghent University is very well known due particularly to the orthopaedics school,” Philippe Neyret, MD, of Lyon, France, said.

“During the last century, Albin Lambotte, MD, introduced the principles of osteosynthesis and was a pioneer. He was one of the first to travel to the United States and other foreign countries to disseminate Belgian orthopaedic knowledge,” Neyret told Orthopaedics Today Europe.

Lambotte: a trainer

Jean Verbrugge, MD
Jean Verbrugge, MD, became chairman of the Ghent Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in March 1946. Today, clamps and spreaders named for him are still used worldwide.

Images: UZ Ghent

Lambotte mainly worked and taught in Antwerp and Brussels, but his name is associated with the outstanding orthopaedic clinical and research work done throughout Belgium in the 1800s and 1900s.

He trained Jean Verbrugge, MD, the first orthopaedic surgeon to head what today is the University of Ghent Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology.

René Verdonk, MD, PhD, the current head of the department, was appointed to the position in 1992. He is a member of the Orthopaedics Today Europe Editorial Board, past president of the European Society of Sports Trauma, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy and member of the Advisory Board of Directors of the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine.

“Prof. Verdonk is a respected leader throughout Europe and internationally,” Kenneth E. DeHaven, MD, of Rochester, U.S.A., said.

Clamps, spreader

At various points in its evolution, the department included radiology, radiotherapy, physiotherapy, kinesiotherapy and rheumatology. Physiotherapy in Ghent, for example, is more than 100 years old, but today is among the specialties that are no longer part of the department.

Lambotte and Verbrugge, who joined the department in 1946, following L.H. VanHouteghem, MD, collaborated on numerous efforts, including traveling to Argentina to operate and train surgeons there.

“Together they made many instruments, like the Verbrugge clamp, which is still in use all over the orthopaedic world, and the Verbrugge spreader,” Verdonk said.

Interestingly, both men constructed wooden musical instruments, including highly sought-after violins.

Device maker

Orthopaedic manufacturers were not yet established, so Lambotte designed and hand-fabricated many of the orthopaedic devices he used in the operating room.

Some of them aided his work on osteosynthesis of the femur performed in the early 1900s.

“He impressed the value of this form of manual training on all his students,” according to an article in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS) published after Lambotte’s death in 1955.

Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy was among the many early modes of orthopaedic rehabilitation. This hydrotherapy room at the Ghent Orthopaedic Clinic, photographed in 1959, was mainly used for rehabilitating patients with poliomyelitis.

Orthopaedic leader

Verbrugge served as president of the Belgian Orthopaedic Society three times and in 1962 was president of the Belgian Surgery Society.

The author of a popular orthopaedic textbook, he was also corresponding editor of JBJS from Belgium and an honorary fellow of an educational foundation started in the 1920s to foster the exchange of information between Belgium and the United States.

From 1936 to 1945, VanHouteghem initiated the practice of training medical students in orthopaedics, which at the time consisted mainly of treating children’s deformities, according to Verdonk.

Conservative treatment

Etienne Vereecken, MD, was a physiotherapist and worked at the Department of Physiotherapy and Rheumatology from 1941 to 1948 and started the pediatric and adult scoliosis surgery service, which current department member Dirk Uyttendaele, MD, has maintained and expanded, Verdonk said.

Physiotherapist Henry Claessens, MD, succeeded Verbrugge as department chairman in 1965. At the time, the department included physiotherapy and orthopaedics.

“This was to me a major plus,” since physiotherapy involves conservative care and orthopaedics is also conservative treatment, although sometimes operating is necessary, Verdonk said.

“We were led by somebody who was not a surgeon. Over the years we tend to call ourselves orthopaedic surgeons, but in fact we are orthopaedic physicians and we also do surgery.

“This made training for orthopaedics here valuable since it looked at surgery, conservative treatment and inflammatory diseases; a much broader view of locomotor pathology than if you just trained in an orthopaedic department where you did more surgery than anything else,” Verdonk explained.

In 1967, Claessens succeeded in incorporating traumatology into the orthopaedic department by “inviting” the service to join it. He retired in 1992 and was succeeded by Verdonk.

By 1996, physiotherapy was a separate university department, although it is housed today in the same building with orthopaedic surgery.

DeHaven, former president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said Verdonk and his team, including his son, Peter, who is also an orthopaedic surgeon, have pioneered meniscus transplantation using viable menisci.

“They are widely recognized in Europe for this ongoing work,” he told Orthopaedics Today Europe.

Albin Lambotte, MD
Albin Lambotte, MD, (center) is famous for his contributions in the area of osteosynthesis and trauma. He also trained many orthopaedic surgeons in Europe, Brazil and Argentina, including Jean Verbrugge, MD.

Knee surgery

Verdonk’s early training at a large center in Antwerp that specialized in knee surgery and sports-related trauma is one reason the department earned its world-wide reputation for innovative knee treatments.

Verdonk started performing knee arthroscopy in 1975 and has since continued to focus on knee injuries.

He said, “That was pioneering work in the sense that we started with new knee techniques for types of knee surgery that were formerly exclusively done open.”

Cartilage repair

Neyret described Ghent orthopaedist K. Fredrik Almqvist, MD, PhD, one of Verdonk’s pupils, as “One of the most productive orthopaedic surgeons in the field of management of cartilage defects.”

One of Almqvist’s innovative contributions to cartilage repair was his pioneering use of allogenic cartilage cells placed in a 3-D matrix, Neyret said.

The department plans to continue its emphasis on the knee, meniscal pathology, treatment and replacement.

“We are developing further surgical treatments and aggressive treatment for tumors because of what we learned from Prof. Claessens. Because of his experience, we are also involved in shoulder surgery, biomechanics and implants, an area headed by Lieven F. DeWilde, MD,” Verdonk said.

Freezing autologous bone for reimplantation during musculoskeletal tumor surgery, a take-off on Claessens’ approach of irradiating bone to effectively kill tumor cells, is now being investigated by department members. Verdonk expects it, as well as research into a new partial meniscus replacement device, to be among the important clinical contributions to come from Ghent in the future.

For more information:

Kenneth E. DeHaven, MD, can be reached at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Box 665, 601 Elmwood Ave., Rochester, NY 14642-2970 U.S.A.; +1-585-275-2970; e-mail: Kenneth_DeHaven@urmc.rochester.edu.

Philippe Neyret, MD, can be reached at Hopital de la Croix-Rousse, 8, rue de Margnolles, Centre Medico Sportif Albert Trillat, Centre Livet, 69300 Lyon, France. +33-472-071989; e-mail: philippe.neyret@chu-lyon.fr.

René Verdonk, MD, can be reached at Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium; +32-9-332-2227; e-mail: Rene.Verdonk@uzgent.be.

  • Reference:

Albin Lambotte 1866-1955. J Bone Joint Surg (Am). 1956;38:464-466.

Pioneers

The orthopaedic surgery tradition at Ghent University in Belgium includes several decades of contributions from orthopaedic and surgical leaders and key developments related to osteosynthesis, shoulder biomechanics, scoliosis treatment and meniscal transplantation.

“In Europe, Ghent University is very well known due particularly to the orthopaedics school,” Philippe Neyret, MD, of Lyon, France, said.

“During the last century, Albin Lambotte, MD, introduced the principles of osteosynthesis and was a pioneer. He was one of the first to travel to the United States and other foreign countries to disseminate Belgian orthopaedic knowledge,” Neyret told Orthopaedics Today Europe.

Lambotte: a trainer

Jean Verbrugge, MD
Jean Verbrugge, MD, became chairman of the Ghent Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in March 1946. Today, clamps and spreaders named for him are still used worldwide.

Images: UZ Ghent

Lambotte mainly worked and taught in Antwerp and Brussels, but his name is associated with the outstanding orthopaedic clinical and research work done throughout Belgium in the 1800s and 1900s.

He trained Jean Verbrugge, MD, the first orthopaedic surgeon to head what today is the University of Ghent Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology.

René Verdonk, MD, PhD, the current head of the department, was appointed to the position in 1992. He is a member of the Orthopaedics Today Europe Editorial Board, past president of the European Society of Sports Trauma, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy and member of the Advisory Board of Directors of the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine.

“Prof. Verdonk is a respected leader throughout Europe and internationally,” Kenneth E. DeHaven, MD, of Rochester, U.S.A., said.

Clamps, spreader

At various points in its evolution, the department included radiology, radiotherapy, physiotherapy, kinesiotherapy and rheumatology. Physiotherapy in Ghent, for example, is more than 100 years old, but today is among the specialties that are no longer part of the department.

Lambotte and Verbrugge, who joined the department in 1946, following L.H. VanHouteghem, MD, collaborated on numerous efforts, including traveling to Argentina to operate and train surgeons there.

“Together they made many instruments, like the Verbrugge clamp, which is still in use all over the orthopaedic world, and the Verbrugge spreader,” Verdonk said.

Interestingly, both men constructed wooden musical instruments, including highly sought-after violins.

Device maker

Orthopaedic manufacturers were not yet established, so Lambotte designed and hand-fabricated many of the orthopaedic devices he used in the operating room.

Some of them aided his work on osteosynthesis of the femur performed in the early 1900s.

“He impressed the value of this form of manual training on all his students,” according to an article in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS) published after Lambotte’s death in 1955.

Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy was among the many early modes of orthopaedic rehabilitation. This hydrotherapy room at the Ghent Orthopaedic Clinic, photographed in 1959, was mainly used for rehabilitating patients with poliomyelitis.

Orthopaedic leader

Verbrugge served as president of the Belgian Orthopaedic Society three times and in 1962 was president of the Belgian Surgery Society.

The author of a popular orthopaedic textbook, he was also corresponding editor of JBJS from Belgium and an honorary fellow of an educational foundation started in the 1920s to foster the exchange of information between Belgium and the United States.

From 1936 to 1945, VanHouteghem initiated the practice of training medical students in orthopaedics, which at the time consisted mainly of treating children’s deformities, according to Verdonk.

Conservative treatment

Etienne Vereecken, MD, was a physiotherapist and worked at the Department of Physiotherapy and Rheumatology from 1941 to 1948 and started the pediatric and adult scoliosis surgery service, which current department member Dirk Uyttendaele, MD, has maintained and expanded, Verdonk said.

Physiotherapist Henry Claessens, MD, succeeded Verbrugge as department chairman in 1965. At the time, the department included physiotherapy and orthopaedics.

“This was to me a major plus,” since physiotherapy involves conservative care and orthopaedics is also conservative treatment, although sometimes operating is necessary, Verdonk said.

“We were led by somebody who was not a surgeon. Over the years we tend to call ourselves orthopaedic surgeons, but in fact we are orthopaedic physicians and we also do surgery.

“This made training for orthopaedics here valuable since it looked at surgery, conservative treatment and inflammatory diseases; a much broader view of locomotor pathology than if you just trained in an orthopaedic department where you did more surgery than anything else,” Verdonk explained.

In 1967, Claessens succeeded in incorporating traumatology into the orthopaedic department by “inviting” the service to join it. He retired in 1992 and was succeeded by Verdonk.

By 1996, physiotherapy was a separate university department, although it is housed today in the same building with orthopaedic surgery.

DeHaven, former president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said Verdonk and his team, including his son, Peter, who is also an orthopaedic surgeon, have pioneered meniscus transplantation using viable menisci.

“They are widely recognized in Europe for this ongoing work,” he told Orthopaedics Today Europe.

Albin Lambotte, MD
Albin Lambotte, MD, (center) is famous for his contributions in the area of osteosynthesis and trauma. He also trained many orthopaedic surgeons in Europe, Brazil and Argentina, including Jean Verbrugge, MD.

Knee surgery

Verdonk’s early training at a large center in Antwerp that specialized in knee surgery and sports-related trauma is one reason the department earned its world-wide reputation for innovative knee treatments.

Verdonk started performing knee arthroscopy in 1975 and has since continued to focus on knee injuries.

He said, “That was pioneering work in the sense that we started with new knee techniques for types of knee surgery that were formerly exclusively done open.”

Cartilage repair

Neyret described Ghent orthopaedist K. Fredrik Almqvist, MD, PhD, one of Verdonk’s pupils, as “One of the most productive orthopaedic surgeons in the field of management of cartilage defects.”

One of Almqvist’s innovative contributions to cartilage repair was his pioneering use of allogenic cartilage cells placed in a 3-D matrix, Neyret said.

The department plans to continue its emphasis on the knee, meniscal pathology, treatment and replacement.

“We are developing further surgical treatments and aggressive treatment for tumors because of what we learned from Prof. Claessens. Because of his experience, we are also involved in shoulder surgery, biomechanics and implants, an area headed by Lieven F. DeWilde, MD,” Verdonk said.

Freezing autologous bone for reimplantation during musculoskeletal tumor surgery, a take-off on Claessens’ approach of irradiating bone to effectively kill tumor cells, is now being investigated by department members. Verdonk expects it, as well as research into a new partial meniscus replacement device, to be among the important clinical contributions to come from Ghent in the future.

For more information:

Kenneth E. DeHaven, MD, can be reached at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Box 665, 601 Elmwood Ave., Rochester, NY 14642-2970 U.S.A.; +1-585-275-2970; e-mail: Kenneth_DeHaven@urmc.rochester.edu.

Philippe Neyret, MD, can be reached at Hopital de la Croix-Rousse, 8, rue de Margnolles, Centre Medico Sportif Albert Trillat, Centre Livet, 69300 Lyon, France. +33-472-071989; e-mail: philippe.neyret@chu-lyon.fr.

René Verdonk, MD, can be reached at Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium; +32-9-332-2227; e-mail: Rene.Verdonk@uzgent.be.

  • Reference:

Albin Lambotte 1866-1955. J Bone Joint Surg (Am). 1956;38:464-466.