Surgical treatment of fractures has evolved with the development of anaesthesia in 1846. Experiments with different implants both organic and non-organic had led to introduction of sometimes extremely peculiar materials coming from different species like ox bone or elephant’s ivory. The aim of this article is to present not widely known concept of ivory use in bone surgery that set its foot in the history of orthopaedics and laid foundations for orthobiologic reconstructions.
Retrospective analysis of articles and books published between 1846 and 2017 that describe various examples of ivory application in the treatment of fresh fractures, non-unions and reconstruction of joints.
Our research shows that ivory to the surgical world was introduced by Friedrich Dieffenbach, founder of the modern plastic surgery. It was also used with different rate of success by many of the famous surgeons of the nineteenth and twentieth century to include Trendelenburg, Billroth, Volkmann, Paget and Hey Groves. Ivory was immensely popular in bone surgery and became material of choice demonstrating amazing biological properties and very low rate of infections.
Ivory has served well in successful treatment of various orthopaedic conditions for over 100 years. In this article, we are using history as a stepping stone to examine material that is not rejected by the body and promotes bony healing without increased infection or other complications. It is worth considering further analysis of historically acquired specimens for further development of materials for further orthopaedic fracture and reconstructive techniques.