History of Orthopaedics In Karnataka
History is the very element of life. If you neglect history, you will be made to enliven it. But unfortunately, from time immemorial history was distorted, tuned and changed to the agony of facts and figures. I have tried in my own way to unearth the history of Orthopaedics in Karnataka. God has been kind to me, I am perhaps one of the oldest living, yet actively practising orthopaedic surgeons of Karnataka and I have seen the transformation of our speciality from the general surgeons to the crafty hands of the trained orthopaedic surgeons from the 1950s and 1960s to 2022. I have gathered most of the information from websites, colleagues and from different medical college diaries and my own memory.
The first M.S (Orth) program in India was started in 1957 by Dr. B N Sinha at Lucknow and the next year in Bombay followed by Kolkata, Chennai, Patna and other State Capitals thereby promoting trained orthopaedic specialists round the country. Till then only Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons deviated from General Surgery to Orthopaedics or few graduated from Liverpool School as M.Ch Orthopaedics or FRCS Orthopaedics in Canada or Board-certified in the United States were practising orthopaedics in India since our independence.
Karnataka State, one of the jewels amongst the States of India was born on the 1st November 1956, with the linguistic reorganization of states. Karnataka state known as the Silicon State of India is a tourists’ paradise, an educational hub and more than all known for its jubilant yet simple people, specially orthopaedic surgeons who are ethically perfect, morally bound and up-to-date in science and technology.
Till 1961, there was no separate Orthopaedics Department even in the two of the oldest medical colleges we had in Mysore and Bangalore respectively. Dr. HKS Murthy, FRCS, a Canadian trained Orthopaedic Surgeon was posted at Bangalore Medical College and Dr. M Y Rai, an FRCS M.Ch UK Trained Orthopaedic Surgeon was posted in the senior-most Medical College, Mysore Medical College as Heads of Orthopaedics Unit. These were the first independent Orthopaedic Departments from 1962.
Later, Orthopaedic Departments came into being in Manipal, Mangalore, Hubli, Gulbarga, Bellary, Belgaum, Davangere, Mysore and Bangalore where other Medical Colleges came into existence. Dr. Hanumanthaiah, who did his post graduation in Lucknow, Dr. V. Chacko from Kanpur, Dr. Shivaprakash and Dr. Mariappa from AIMS, Delhi, Dr. A M Kulkarni, Dr. R.R Shah, Dr. Shyam Sundar Shetty from Rohtak, Dr. Ramanna from CIO, Delhi and myself from Maulana Azad Medical College were the first few to head the Departments of Orthopaedics in different Medical Schools in Karnataka in the initial stages in the early 1970s. Dr. J S Hegde in Mysore, Dr. R. K Sharma and Dr. Putti in Belgaum, Dr. Nagaraj, Dr. Krishnappa in Bangalore were the other Heads of the Departments, who started the post graduation in their respective colleges in the later part of the 1980s.
Before 1975, there were many stalwarts like Dr. Gyanchand in Bangalore, who later became the Director of Health Services Dr. Srinivasan of Chengalpattu who first started the Orthopaedic Unit in Mangalore, Dr. N. Arora was the first orthopaedic surgeon in the private sector in Bangalore and then Dr. M Srinivasan in Bangalore. Dr. Surendra after his M.Ch from Liverpool was the Head in St. Marthas for 3 decades from 1973. Other notable names who started the orthopaedic departments in different parts of Karnataka State are Dr. Erappa Reddy, Dr. Kanaka Reddy, Dr. Sapare, Dr. T.D. Ram, Dr. Hiremath, Dr. Somshekhar and others. Dr. Premalatha who was my college-mate in Mysore was the first lady Orthopaedic Surgeon from Karnataka retired as Professor and Head of the Department at Bellary Medical College.
I have not named anyone who has so ably taken the mantle of Orthopaedics in different departments later than 1975 since the list is big and I am likely to miss someone. If I have missed anyone, I am sure, they won’t mind since for them the Orthopaedic fraternity and growth are more important. For history, three of us, Dr.V.Chacko from Manipal, Dr.Shantharam Shetty from Mangalore and Dr. Rajiv Naik from Bangalore proudly represented Karnataka as the Presidents of Indian Orthopaedic Association. Dr. V. Chacko in his vision was the first to start speciality departments like the spine, arthroscopy, hand, paediatrics and arthroplasty at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal. Dr. S. Shetty started the first DNB Orthopaedic Centre in Mangalore along with Dr. Thomas Chandy who has a reputed Speciality Hospital in Bangalore, namely, Hosmat.
It is noteworthy that Dr. Mangalore Gopal Kini, the first trained Orthopaedic Surgeon from Liverpool, hailed from Mangalore, Karnataka and Karnataka is proud that the prestigious M G Kini Oration by the Indian Orthopaedic Association is named after him. He started the Orthopaedic department in Chennai and Vizag and later moved on to Mumbai and started the famous Rehabilitation Orthopaedic Centre called the SRCC Hospital Near Haji Ali, Mumbai along with Dr Perin K. Mullaferoze, the well-known Lady Orthopaedic Surgeon of India.
Karnataka Orthopaedic Association, which is a part of the Indian Orthopaedic Association has 1250 members with each of the 31 districts having their own orthopaedic societies. Dr. M. Y Rai was the first President and Dr. J S Hegde was the first Secretary of Karnataka Orthopaedic Association, and the association started with 30 members and has 2090 members as on 31st March 2023. Karnataka has 60 medical colleges today with full-blown orthopaedics departments and more than 30 orthopaedic speciality hospitals with more than 200 beds in different cities of Karnataka. The work undertaken in these hospitals are world-class, be it trauma, arthroplasty, arthroscopy, spine, hand, paediatrics, foot and ankle, onco or any other speciality.
In 1970, there were only 4 medical colleges, today we have 66 medical colleges in Karnataka, one of the highest numbers amongst all states. In 1970, there were only 20 orthopaedic surgeons in Karnataka. Today we have more than 2000 with 64 postgraduate centres including DNB. We have indeed travelled a lot from skeletal tractions, hand drills and neglected deformities to the true slogan of life is movement and movement is life with newer biotechnologies and instrumentation support. The different centres of Karnataka Orthopaedic Departments are referral centres and patients from different parts of the world specially, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Middle-east and Afro Asian and European countries and even from the UK, USA and Canada come to different orthopaedic centres in Karnataka for getting their treatment for trauma and orthopaedic problems as a part of Medical Tourism.
My appeal to the younger generation is to be more clinically oriented, be compassionate and helpful to patients and carry on the high traditions of orthopaedics our forefathers have practised and left behind. Karnataka has established an indelible mark in the history of orthopaedics work in our country and let us march forwards firmly in our faith in orthopaedics sustained in our confidence in the will of God and the promise of Karnataka Orthopaedic Surgeons.