Expert Care. Personalized Approach.

A Brief History of Columbia Orthopaedics

While New York City was recovering from the Civil War, the New York Orthopaedic Dispensary – later renamed New York Orthopaedic Hospital (NYOH)—opened its doors in 1866 as the first medical institution in the world dedicated to treating poor children afflicted by diseases of the musculoskeletal system.  Eventually, NYOH expanded its services to provide orthopaedic care to adults.

In 1945, NYOH merged with the Presbyterian Hospital Trauma Service and in the early 1950s, it joined the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in upper Manhattan—now known as NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.  Today called Columbia Orthopaedics, this outstanding service offers one of the oldest orthopaedic training program in the country.

Ever since the early days of our orthopaedic program, our specialists have played a significant role in developing and refining techniques to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal diseases in children and adults. 

Here are a few highlights of our history, including innovations that advanced the discipline of orthopaedic surgery:

  • The first wholly successful operation to lengthen the Achilles tendon (1899) 
  • The world’s first vertebral fusion to prevent the progression of curvature of the spine (1911), a technique that has been called the most important advance in scoliosis treatment in 3,000 years. This principle was applied successfully to the ankle, foot and hip
  • Pioneering treatment of children's bone infections in the pre-antibiotic era.
  • The first bone bank in a civilian hospital (1945)
  • The establishment by Robert E. Carroll, MD of the world’s first and most specialized hand service in a civilian hospital (1949)
  • The founding of the Shoulder Service (1950s) by the renowned “father of modern shoulder surgery,” Charles S. Neer, MD, whose many contributions to the specialty dramatically changed the direction of orthopedic surgery (1950s)
  • The nation’s first fellowship training program in hand surgery (1958)
  • One of the nation’s first program in total hip replacement established (1968) by Frank Stinchfield, MD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (1956-1976) who founded and was the first president of the Hip Society of the United States and the International Hip Society and the first orthopedic surgeon to become president of the American College of Surgeons
  • The first total knee replacement in the U.S. performed by Nas S. Eftekar, MD, using the technique he developed, condylar knee replacement, which is used around the world today (1970)
  • The first shoulder replacement that resulted in a full range of motion (1973)
  • The world’s first shoulder and elbow fellowship established by Dr. Neer (1976)
  • The Microsurgery Training and Research Laboratory established by Harold M. Dick, MD, Frank E. Stinchfield Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, to make microsurgery an integral part of a surgeon’s training in various fields and specialties (1980)
  • The Trauma Training Center founded by Melvin P. Rosenwasser and Professor Robert J. Pawluk so our trauma specialists can teach orthopedic trauma principles and techniques to physicians from around the world  and where research to optimize outcomes can be conducted in a state-of-the-art facility (1992)
  • The opening of the Arthroscopy Laboratory, which offers state-of-the-art instruments to perform any arthroscopic or open procedure (1998)  
  • The Center for Orthopaedic Research (COR)  established by Louis U. Bigliani, MD, Frank E. Stinchfield Professor and Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, to develop breakthrough therapies in patient diagnoses, treatments, and outcomes (2003)
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