October 10, 1990

Fractures: A History and Iconography of Their Treatment

Author Affiliations

Boston (Mass) Children's Hospital

Boston (Mass) Children's Hospital


by Leonard F. Peltier, 273 pp, with illus, $195, ISBN 0-930405-16-1, San Francisco, Calif, Norman Publishing, 1990.

JAMA. 1990;264(14):1879. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450140101045

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This marvelous historical summary of fracture management from the time of the pharaohs to nearly the present should be required reading for all orthopedic residents and for all surgeons who treat fractures. It updates the classic works of Malgaigne and Gurlt published in the mid-19th century and brings them up to just past the mid-20th century.

Ancient illustrations from old woodcuts and modern diagrams are all clearly presented. The names of the physicians and surgeons involved are household words, and Dr Peltier has clearly summarized their contributions and put them into perspective.

A brief introduction to bone setting is followed by the evolution of splints from blood-soaked bandages to plaster of paris. There is a fascinating account of the management of open fractures prior to the recognition of bacterial infections and Lister's antisepsis. The unlucky patient with an open fracture could anticipate something between amputation and death, most commonly the