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Moed, Berton R., MD; Chairman, AOTrauma Research Commission*; Vrahas, Mark S., MD; Past Chairman, AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation

Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma: February 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue - p Si
doi: 10.1097/BOT.0000000000001399

*Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO; and

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cedars Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles, CA.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Accepted November 07, 2018

This JOT supplement publication is the second in our series in tribute to the achievements of a great orthopaedic fracture surgeon. In this supplement, we posthumously honor a man who was an iconic and transcendent figure in orthopaedic surgery—Emile Letournel (Fig. 1). He is best known for his work in acetabular and pelvic fracture care, having co-authored the groundbreaking English language journal article establishing the first functional and comprehensive acetabular fracture classification system,1 further refining this system (as shown in our “classic article” republication2) and writing the definitive, “Gold Standard” text on overall acetabular fracture care.3 However, his body of work was much more wide-ranging.



Professor Letournel actually was a general orthopaedic surgeon, actively involved in patient care encompassing the full scope of orthopaedic surgery. Furthermore, his academic publications, although mostly in the French literature, were similarly comprehensive. In addition, he was an avid and exceptional educator. He organized his own seminal instructional courses in acetabular and pelvic fracture care and his prosections were the highlight of any course. A complete gentleman, he always made himself available to participate in the follow-on courses organized by others and was very open to new ideas.

Teaching excellence was one of his goals no matter what the venue. Those who were privileged to spend time with Letournel on his medical service at the Centre Médico-Chirurgical de la Porte de Choisy in Paris, France for training, whether for a week or 2 or for a full fellowship (as was the case for each of the guest editors), were assured of having the experience of their professional lives: from the espresso bar on the top floor of the hospital, to the operating room to assist the master surgeon at work, to the clinics and finally the wards. Who else could have his cigar at the scrub sink – and where else could you see it (Fig. 2)! A consummate host, Letournel took pride in taking care of his visitors well beyond the operating theater. There was nothing like Christmas dinner in Charleville (Fig. 3).





Emile Letournel was a mentor to the contributing authors of this supplement, and it is our honor to have been chosen to coordinate this fitting tribute. Unfortunately, he died unexpectedly in 1994 while still very active both as a surgeon and educator. We are pleased to be able to include a testimonial by his close friend, Eric Johnson.

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1. Judet R, Judet J, Letournel E. Fractures of the acetabulum. Classification and surgical approaches for open reduction. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1964;46A:1615–1638.
2. Letournel E. Acetabulum fractures: classification and management. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1980;151:81–106.
3. Letournel E, Judet R. Fractures of the Acetabulum. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag; 1993.
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