Dr. Anthony F. DePalma is shown. Photograph provided with kind permission of the Art Committee of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.
Dr. DePalma was the first editor of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, established by the recently formed Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons. The idea of forming the Association of Bone and Joint surgeons had been conceived by Dr. Earl McBride of Oklahoma City in 1947, and organized by a group of twelve individuals (Drs. Earl McBride, Garrett Pipkin, Duncan McKeever, Judson Wilson, Fritz Teal, Louis Breck, Henry Louis Green, Howard Shorbe, Theodore Vinke, Paul Williams, Eugene Secord, and Frank Hand) . The first organizational meeting was held in conjunction with the 1949 Annual Meeting of the AAOS  and the first annual meeting held April 1–2, 1949 in Oklahoma City. Drs. McBride and McKeever invited Dr. DePalma to attend that meeting and join the society. According to DePalma, “Even at this small gathering, there were whisperings of the need of another journal to provide an outlet for the many worthy papers written on clinical and basic science subjects” . The decision to form a new journal was finalized in 1951, and Drs. DePalma and McBride signed a contract with J.B. Lippincott Company. Dr. DePalma was designated Editor-in-Chief, and the journal became a reality in 1953 with the publication of the first volume. From the outset he established the “symposium” as a unique feature, in which part of the articles were devoted to a particular topic. Dr. DePalma served as Editor for 13 years until 1966, when he resigned the position and recommended the appointment of Dr. Marshall R. Urist. At his retirement, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research was well established as a major journal.
Dr. Anthony F. DePalma was born in Philadelphia in 1904, the son of immigrants from Alberona in central Foggia, Italy . He attended the University of Maryland for his premedical education, then Jefferson Medical College, from which he graduated in 1929. He then served a two-year internship (common at the time) at Philadelphia General Hospital. Jobs were scarce owing to the Depression, and he felt fortunate to obtain in 1931 a position as assistant surgeon at the Coaldale State Hospital, in Coaldale, Pennsylvania, a mining town. However, he became attracted to orthopaedics and looked for a preceptorship (postgraduate training in specialties was not well developed at this time before the establishments of Boards). In the fall of 1932, he was appointed as a preceptor at the New Jersey Orthopaedic Hospital, an extension of the New York Orthopaedic Hospital. In 1939 he acquired Board certification (the first board examination was offered in 1935 for a fee of $25.00 ) and was appointed to the NJOH staff .
Dr. DePalma volunteered for military service in 1942, and served first at the Parris Island Naval Hospital in South Carolina, then on the Rixey, a hospital ship. In addition to serving to evacuate casualties to New Zealand, his ship was involved in several of the Pacific island assaults (Guam, Leyte, Okinawa). In 1945, he was assigned to the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia .
On his return to Philadelphia, he contacted staff members at Jefferson Medical College, including the Chair, Dr. James Martin, and became good friends with Dr. Bruce Gill (a professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the earliest Presidents of the AAOS). After he was discharged from the service, he joined the staff of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Jefferson, where he remained the rest of his career. He succeeded Dr. Martin as Chair in 1950, a position he held until 1970 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65. He closed his practice and moved briefly to Pompano Beach, Florida, but the lure of academia proved too powerful, and in January, 1971, he accepted the offer to develop a Division of Orthopaedics at the New Jersey College of Medicine and became their Chair. He committed to a five-year period, and then again moved to Pompano Beach, only to take the Florida State Boards and open a private practice in 1977. His practice grew, and he continued that practice until 1983 at the age of nearly 79. Even then he continued to travel and lecture .
We reproduce here four of his many contributions on the shoulder. The first comes from his classic monograph, “Surgery of the Shoulder,” published by J. B. Lippincott in 1950 . In this article he describes the evolutionary development of the shoulder, focusing on the distinction between various primates, and relates the anatomic changes to upright posture and prehensile requirements. The remaining three are journal articles related to frozen shoulder , recurrent dislocation , and surgical anatomy of the rotator cuff , three of the most common shoulder problems then and now. He documented the histologic inflammation and degeneration in various tissues including the coracohumeral ligaments, supraspinatus tendon, bursal wall, subscapularis musculotendinous junction, and biceps tendon. Thus, the problem was rather more global than localized. He emphasized, “Manipulation of frozen shoulders is a dangerous and futile procedure.” For recurrent dislocation he advocated the Magnuson procedure (transfer of the subscapularis tendon to the greater tuberosity) to create a musculotendinous sling. All but two of 23 patients he treated with this approach were satisfied with this relatively simple procedure. (Readers will note the absence of contemporary approaches to ascertain outcomes and satisfaction. The earliest outcome musculoskeletal measures were introduced in the 60s by Larson  and then by Harris , but these instruments were physician-generated and do not reflect the rather more rigorously validated patient-generated outcome measures we use today. Nonetheless, the approach used by Dr. DePalma reflected the best existing standards of reporting results.) Dr. DePalma’s classic article, “Surgical Anatomy of the Rotator Cuff and the Natural History of Degenerative Periarthritis,”  reflected his literature review and dissections of 96 shoulders from 50 individuals “unaware of any (shoulder) disability” and mostly over the age of 40. By the fifth decade, most specimens began to show signs of rotator cuff tearing and he found complete tears in nine specimens from “the late decades.” He concluded,
“Based on the…observations, one can reasonably construct the natural history of periarthritis of the shoulder. It is apparent that aging is an important etiological factor, and with aging certain changes take place in the connective tissue elements of the musculotendinous cuff…it is also apparent that in slowly developing lesions of this nature compensating adjustments in the mechanics of the joint take place so that severe alterations in the mechanics of the joint do not appear. However, one must admit that such a joint is very vulnerable and, if subjected to minor trauma, the existing degenerative lesion would be extended and aggravated.”
Thus, he clearly defined the benign effects of rotator cuff tear in many aging individuals, but also the potential to create substantial pain and disability.
Dr. DePalma was a prolific researcher and writer. In addition to his “Surgery of the Shoulder,” he wrote three other books, “Diseases of the Knee: Management in Medicine and Surgery” (published by J.B. Lippincott in 1954) , “The Management of Fractures and Dislocations” (a large and comprehensive two volume work published by W.B. Saunders in 1959, and going through 5 reprintings) , and “The Intervertebral Disc” (published by W.B. Saunders in 1970, and written with his colleague, Dr. Richard Rothman) . PubMed lists 62 articles he published from 1948 until 1992.
We wish to pay tribute to Dr. DePalma for his vision in establishing Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research as a unique journal and for his many contributions to orthopaedic surgery.
DePalma A. Loss of scapulohumeral motion (frozen shoulder). Ann Surg. 1952;135:193–204.DePalma AF. Origin and comparative anatomy of the pectoral limb. In: DePalma AF, ed. Surgery of the Shoulder. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott; 1950:1–14.DePalma AF. Recurrent dislocation of the shoulder joint. Ann Surg. 1950;132:1052–1065.DePalma AF. Diseases of the Knee: Management in Medicine and Surgery. Philadelphia, PA: JB Lippincott Company; 1954.DePalma AF. The Management of Fractures and Dislocations—An Atlas. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company; 1959.DePalma AF. Surgical anatomy of the rotator cuff and the natural history of degenerative periarthritis. Surg Clin North Am. 1963;43:1507–1520.DePalma AF. A lifetime of devotion to the Janus of orthopedics. Bridging the gap between the clinic and laboratory. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1991;265:146–169.DePalma AF, Rothman RH. The Intervertebral Disc. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company; 1970.Derkash RS. History of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1997;337:306–309.Harris WH. Traumatic arthritis of the hip after dislocation and acetabular fractures: treatment by mold arthroplasty. An end-result study using a new method of result evaluation. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1969;51:737–755.Larson CB. Rating scale for hip disabilities. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1963;31:85–93.