​History

The first animal to be treated for repair of a fracture was the dog belonging to Mrs. Willenegger, the wife of the founding member Prof. Hans Willenegger, who performed the surgical intervention himself at the human hospital in Winterthur, Switzerland. The surgeons applied a Kuentscher Nail to a short oblique simple femur fracture with good success in 1943.

  1. Preoperative radiograph of the diaphyseal femur fracture
  2. 14-week postoperative radiograph with the nail inplace
  3. 16-week postoperative radiograph after implant removal

Femoral shaft fracture on a dog treated by intramedullary nailing with V-shape Küntscher nail.
Performed by H. Knoll, H. Willenegger and J. Jenny in October 1943 at Kantonsspital Winterthur Department of Surgery.

AOVET was founded in 1969, just 10 years after the inception of the AO Foundation. Because animals had been an integral part of human medical research, it was decided that they too should benefit from new advances in fracture treatment.

In the early years, AO surgeons worked side by side with a number of veterinarians interested in learning the new techniques. These bold collaborators soon developed concepts for the veterinary applications of the Mathys and Strauman implants, and began to apply AO principles to both small and large animals.

The first president of AOVET was Bjiörn von Salis, a private practitioner near Zurich who lead the small group of enthusiasts for several years. The pioneers of AOVET included among others, Feri & Geri Kasa, small animal practitioners from Lörrach, Germany (near Basel), Prof. Jacques Jenny, a Swiss veterinarian working at the University of Pennsylvania, and Profs. Wade Brinker and Bruce Hohn, both from the USA. Several surgeons were very active in their support for the early veterinary work: A. Guggenbuehl, A. Daetwiller, and Prof. H. Rosen to name only a few. It would take some time to list all the distinguished surgeons, in both human and veterinary medicine, who made significant contributions to the development of veterinary trauma surgery. While we cannot, in this short space, recognize each of our dear colleagues individually, we applaud the efforts of these early trailblazers.

In 1975 the AOVET Center was established in Waldenburg under the direction of Dieter Prieur, a German small-animal specialist. Over the years, the organization flourished, thanks in large part to the efforts of Fritz Straumann, a lifelong lover of animals. With the help of his son Thomas, we remember Dr. Straumann each year at the Davos honorary lecture that bears his name.

Since then, the structure of the AO Foundation has changed radically. In 1983 Maurice Muller developed the definitive fracture classification system for long bone fractures. By 1984, AO was under the guidance of several interconnected governing bodies: the Board of Trustees, the Academic Council, and the Board of Directors.

In 1992 the AOVET Center was moved to Zürich. It has since been directed by J. Auer with the able assistance of Mrs. Monika Gutscher. In 2007 AOVET was recognized as one of the four specialties of the AO Foundation: Trauma, Spine, Craniomaxillofacial (CMF) and VET. AOVET is represented at the board of Trustees by the president and either the president-elect or the past president.