In Memoriam : Robert Danis, an inspiration for Maurice Müller and origins of the AO Foundation


Orthopaedic trauma ; history and surgery

Published online: Apr 16 2021

Jan Dauwe, Stefaan Nijs, Boyko Gueorguiev, R. Geoff Richards

From the UZ Leuven, Orthopaedic Surgery, Leuven, Belgium


Robert Danis (1880-1962) was a Belgian general surgeon mostly remembered for his contributions in the field of bone and joint surgery, a medical subdiscipline currently known as orthopaedic trauma surgery. He initiated this with his first book (1) on the subject in 1932. Danis was the first to develop a concept for biomechanically stable internal fracture fixation, creating and producing his own screws and plates with self-developed machine tools. In 1938 he produced a steel plate with screws that exerted axial compression during use. A device known as the “coapteur”. By 1949 he had reported on 1500 clinical cases. His surgical technique with bone frag- ment repositioning and plate fixation allowed early movement and rehabilitation, one of the four main principles of the AO/ASIF [Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen/Association for the Study of Internal Fixation] which is the AO Foundation today. Danis’ clinical and scientific work caught the attention of Maurice Müller, a swiss surgeon and researcher, who was the originator of the AO/ASIF and one of its founders later on. Both surgeons met personally in Brussels in 1950.