Members of the Société Belge de Chirurgie Orthopédique (SOBCOT) founded by Albin Lambotte in 1921 first published their scientific contributions in the « Archives Franco-Belges de Chirurgie » then, starting in 1929, in the « Archives et Bulletins de la Société belge de Chirurgie » which became in 1936 the « Bulletin de la Société Belge de Chirurgie Orthopédique ». These journals were the precursors of Acta Orthopaedica Belgica, which was born in 1945 together with other Belgian medical journals, under the umbrella of the Association of the Belgian Medical Societies.

Paul Kempeneers, who was already editor of the journal in 1932, held the position until 1953 ; he was succeeded by André Walch. After World War II, the Belgian orthopaedic community gradually became better organized at the academic and society level. The Board was restructured. The journal began receiving publications from foreign countries, especially from France and to a lesser extent from the U.K. and the Netherlands.

In 1962 Georges Calberg reorganized the editorial management and took several initiatives, for instance the publication of abstracts of the main articles published in foreign journals. The number of articles published in English in the journal progressively increased, particularly after the foundation of the Belgische Vereniging voor Orthopedie en Traumatologie (BVOT) in 1963, when publications in English were submitted by Dutch-speaking orthopaedic surgeons.

In 1984 the editorial board was directed by Pol Coutelier and Hector Kinzinger, assisted by native English speaking physicians, Ralph Dolkart at first, followed in 1988 by Ann Owen. Peer reviewing of the manuscripts was initiated in 1984. As a result, the rejection rate increased, and a number of manuscripts were only accepted after revision work.

The management of the journal was taken over by a non-profit organization, « Acta Orthopaedica Belgica », created in 1992 by the two Belgian orthopaedic associations.

Roger Lemaire took over the position of editor-in-chief in 1995, with Staf Geens, Guy Fabry and Michel Hoogmartens as associate editors as of 2002. The scientific and editorial quality of the journal markedly improved over the past two decades, so that it was eventually in a position to receive an impact factor from Thomson Reuters in 2009.

The journal now has a circulation of 1100. The number of issues has increased from 4 to 6/year, the number of manuscripts submitted from 80 – 100/year in the 1990’s to 637 in 2012, the number of manuscripts published from 80/year in the 1990’s to 134 in 2012, while the overall rejection rate rose from 15-20% in the 1990’s to 79% in 2012. As the rejection rate for case reports was nearly 95%, it was eventually decided to discontinue accepting case reports. In the year 2012, 93% of the manuscripts submitted came from 45 countries other than Belgium, reflecting the international character of the journal. The 2012 impact factor was 0.629, with a 5-year impact factor of 0.761. The journal is included in Medline and in EMBASE/Excerpta Medica. The full content of the journal since 1990 is available on the website at http://www.actaorthopaedica.be

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