Re-engineering Colles: Form, function and fragility fractures

Lee, T. C. (2006) Re-engineering Colles: Form, function and fragility fractures. Surgeon (Edinburgh University Press), 4 (1). pp. 39-44. ISSN 1479666X


Of the twenty nine anatomy professors in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, primus inter pares is Abraham Colles. In his 1811 book A Treatise on Surgical Anatomy he revolutionised the subject by teaching it topographically, seeking to describe the relative position of the parts and to point out the subservience of anatomical knowledge to surgical practice. Today we have extended this to 'clinical practice' and, in the Anatomy Room, students are guided through each region by clinically trained staff, from surface anatomy via three-dimensional dissection to radiological images. This is augmented by online histology and radiology courses and DVDs in which dissection footage, edited by a content analysis engine, is used to preview and review practical classes. In the same book, Colles also wrote that 'the fixed and immutable laws of mathematics are little applicable to the science of medicine'. Computer-aided learning argues against this. So does research which links fatigue microdamage to bone remodelling and the development of algorithms to predict, and thus prevent, osteoporotic fractures. Mechanical principles are being used to develop scaffolds for tissue engineering and to optimise the mechanical environment of seeded mesenchymal stem cells. While Colles' teaching approach holds true, in biomechanics, tissue engineering and computing, mathematical laws are now being successfully applied to medical science [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of Surgeon (Edinburgh University Press) is the property of Edinburgh University Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

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