December 2020

Historian Corner

George H. Thompson, MD
SRS Historian

Did you know that 70 years ago…

The Risser Cast utilized a lighter contoured cast applied in traction on a stabilizer frame (Risser frame). Traction through chin and pelvic straps, localized lateral pressure at apices of coronal deformity (Risser localizer cast) also described posterolateral pressure localized to rib hump. (Instr. Course Lect. 1955; 12:255-9) He also described the Risser sign for iliac crest that is still used today to indicate maturity.

To learn more about the myriad of spine and SRS related topics dating back to 1911 please visit our Historical Timeline page at:

And 50 years ago… was the Birth of Fellowship Training

During the September 10, 1970 business meeting, Dr. William F. Donaldson, Jr. introduced Dr. John D. King to comment on the first fellowship he had completed which in essence was the beginning of fellowship training in spine surgery. The fellowship was expected to last 6 months and the fellows were required to spend a major portion of their time in one institution, but were urged and expected to make short visits to at least one or more institutions. At that time two fellowships were appointed, one outside the United States and Canada and one from within. Dr. King and Dr. Jen Fan Wang were the first SRS fellows in 1970. Dr. King reported “everywhere we went, I have never seen so many people who were so generous and so sincere…..It was certainly one of the most stimulating experiences of my life and I will remember it as long as I live”. This historic first year lead to the development of spine fellowships world-wide, as well as the SRS Traveling Fellowship.

For more information on SRS Fellowships see our website:

The committee’s major activity continues to be working on obituaries. Timeline vignettes and the SRS Archives activities remain limited due to the pandemic.

Historical Timelines

We continue working on a Timeline vignette for a display on neuromonitoring for our next in person annual meeting or IMAST, hopefully in 2021.

SRS Archives

The SRS Archives remain on hold due to the pandemic. Material continues to be submitted but a new archivist has not be hired and there have been no trips to the facilities at UKMC who manage our archives.

Conference Call

We have not had a recent History Committee conference call. Our next call is being scheduled for this winter.


Chair: George H. Thompson Committee: Andrew G. King; Acke Ohlin (E); Jeffrey P. Mullin (C); Jonathan N. Sembrano (C); Alexander A. Theologis (C); Patricia N. Kostial (A); Matthew J. Mermer; Behrooz A. Akbarnia (E); Richard M. Schwend; Jay Shapiro, Historian Elect