Sir Hugh Owen Thomas

Hugh_Owen_ThomasMedical Legacy of Sir Hugh Owen Thomas :

His contribution to British orthopaedics was manifold. In the treatment of fractures and tuberculosis he advocated rest, which should be ‘enforced, uninterrupted and prolonged’. In order to achieve this he created the so-called ‘Thomas Splint’, which would stabilise a fractured femur and prevent infection. He is also responsible for numerous other medical innovations that all carry his name: ‘Thomas’s collar’ to treat tuberculosis of the cervical spine, ‘Thomas’s manoeuvre’, an orthopaedic investigation for fracture of the hip joint, Thomas test, a method of detecting hip deformity by having the patient lying flat in bed, ‘Thomas’s wrench’ for reducing fractures, as well as an osteoclast to break and reset bones. His work was never fully appreciated in his own lifetime, but when his nephew, Sir Robert Jones, applied his splint during the First World War, this reduced mortality of compound fractures of the femur from 87% to less than 8% in the period from 1916 to 1918.

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