Journal of Limb Lengthening & Reconstruction

: 2015  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4--5

The luckiest surgeons in the world

Kevin Tetsworth 
 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Kevin Tetsworth
Level 7 NHB, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland

How to cite this article:
Tetsworth K. The luckiest surgeons in the world.J Limb Lengthen Reconstr 2015;1:4-5

How to cite this URL:
Tetsworth K. The luckiest surgeons in the world. J Limb Lengthen Reconstr [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 Jan 29 ];1:4-5
Available from:

Full Text


The written word remains one of the most profoundly influential technological developments in human history. Before man was capable of writing and recording information, we were forced to rely on a verbal tradition to convey important knowledge to others, passing customs and ceremonies to younger generations only through the spoken word. With the advent of writing, we immediately possessed the power to, in a sense, transcend time and space, to transmit information for vast distances and far into the future. It is, therefore, a great pleasure to introduce to you the Journal of Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction, knowing that the words recorded here in this publication will be read across the globe and for many decades to come.

The mission of the Journal of Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction is to provide an independent forum where the peer-reviewed results of our scientific and clinical research efforts can be publically displayed, reviewed, and scrutinized. This journal will now act as the designated means of disseminating vital information regarding what are the best methods to achieve the best results in this challenging field. Somewhat paradoxically, it will simultaneously act as a reservoir of the most current knowledge in our field, retaining information permanently. It is, therefore, very much a teaching tool, something others can learn from; and, ultimately it is our patients who will benefit most.

Most importantly, younger surgeons will be able to continue to learn from those who have already demonstrated some level of mastery and authority in our field. We all recognize the pioneering work of Professor Gavril A. Ilizarov and know of his singular devotion to the complete development of the device and methods that bear his name. Fortunately, we still have his publications to study and reference for those of us who never had the opportunity to hear him speak. There are a number of other very senior orthopedic surgeons who have already dedicated over 30 years of work to Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction, surgeons such as Stuart Green and Maurizio Catagni. It has been my great fortune to know and speak to them directly, and they have both always been generous with their time and knowledge. I was fortunate enough to be able to personally hear them speak and discuss clinical cases on many occasions, and for this my patients are indeed grateful.

I truly consider myself one of the luckiest surgeons in the world, although I do not mean to suggest that the positive outcomes my patients enjoy are somehow fortuitous. It was my honor and genuine privilege to be fortunate enough to have, not one, but two great mentors in this field, learning as much as possible from two completely different perspectives. After I completed my primary orthopedic training, I was Dror Paley's fellow in Baltimore for a year, and much of what we now recognize as the fundamental principles of deformity correction evolved immediately before, during, or shortly after this moment in time. As an innovator, he has an ability to incorporate knowledge and techniques from seemingly disparate fields in orthopedics, and then to synthesize them into approaches to manage entirely new and different pathology. It goes without saying that by immersion in the study of Ilizarov's methods, under Dror's direction, my knowledge base and experience in this field grew exponentially.

Imagine my good fortune to then be invited to become a fellow under George Cierny in Atlanta, studying the management of osteomyelitis and posttraumatic limb salvage and reconstruction. George was an absolute master surgeon in every sense, a great role model and leader, and a clear thinker with structured concepts to address the most complex orthopedic infections. Since then, I have made every effort to follow in his footsteps and to duplicate as closely as possible the quality of his work. His unfortunate death 2 years ago was tragic, a huge loss to those of us with similar interests. Few, if any, other surgeons could ever hope to be so fortunate as I was; my training and experience as a fellow was invaluable, and would be extremely difficult to replicate now.

Over the past 25 years, I have continued to learn as much as possible from many of the other highly regarded and notable surgeons in this field of Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction. I owe a sincere debt of gratitude to so many others, including Mark Dahl, Vladimir Shevtsov, John Herzenberg, Charlie Taylor, Tracy Watson, and far too many more to name here. However, thanks to the publications and recorded works of these, and other, excellent surgeons all of us continue to benefit from their knowledge, wisdom, and experience. That, ultimately, is the role of clinical research and academic publications; to transmit that knowledge to others far and wide and to preserve that wisdom for future generations of surgeons.

So it is with this, the Journal of Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction. My personal thanks are recorded here to Milind Chaudhary, who more than anyone else shared my vision of a journal dedicated to this subject. It is a testament to his diligence, dedication, and persistence that this project has indeed come to fruition. We are of course also grateful to Wolters Kluwer Publishing for having the faith in us to support the journal during this precarious initial period. However, I am confident their faith will be rewarded and this journal will grow and mature to become a Medline listed publication. Although this process will take several years, I am optimistic this is a realistic and achievable goal. This will, of course, require the submission of as many high quality manuscripts as possible from those of us active in this field.

That leads me now to you, the readers of this journal, for I believe you are also among the luckiest surgeons in the world. You already possess a specific set of skills that set you apart from all other surgeons. Those of you with an interest in Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction, I hold in the highest regard, for you, as a group, often choose to treat some of the most difficult, recalcitrant, and neglected orthopedic pathology possible. I am often humbled by the quality of the work I see done by Ilizarov surgeons in less developed countries. The severity of the pathology they encounter often requires extremely clever solutions and to use techniques that have evolved based solely on the fundamental principles of deformity correction. By using the methods of Ilizarov, surgeons now have treatment options available that previously would have been unimaginable. The very fact that you all have mastered the art of generating new bone, on demand, surely makes you the envy of the rest of the world of medicine. Other fields can still only dream of the day they will be able to "grow" new organs, yet it has been commonplace for an Ilizarov surgeon for over three decades.

Finally, it is my pleasure to announce the Journal of Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction is the official journal of the  Association for the Study and Application of the Methods of Ilizarov - Bone Reconstruction (ASAMI-BR). It is possible other organizations will also later choose to have a formal relationship with the journal, and if they do so, we will welcome them. It is with great enthusiasm that I invite you to submit your manuscripts to this journal, knowing that those we publish will contribute to a continuously growing body of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that can be traced back directly to the work of Professor Ilizarov himself.