AO pioneer Urs Heim’s detailed history of the organization now available in digital format

We are happy to announce the digital format of "The AO Phenomenon", written by surgeon, educator, innovator, and AO pioneer Urs Heim is available to download and read for free.

The book, originally published in 2001, details the foundation and early years of the AO. With a foreword by AO founders Maurice E Müller and Martin Allgöwer, Heim’s book began as an idea in summer 1989 when he was taking part in the AO’s Trustees Meeting near Bürgenstock, Switzerland.

“The secret of the uniqueness and significance of the AO is that a whole group of equal, experienced young surgeons met together to develop a new treatment concept making use of equipment they designed themselves, to test it and, in collaboration with technical designers, engineers, scientists and economists, to promote and publicize it,” Heim wrote in the book’s preface, noting that he was motivated to detail the AO’s foundation phase and early years after noting that “it became apparent that the knowledge of many younger members—even those from a similar background—had only a biased or incomplete knowledge of the history and ideas of the pioneers. Legends were already developing.”

Born in Zurich, Switzerland, on April 4, 1924, joined the AO in 1962 after being a first registrar and representative medical assistant to Allgöwer in Chur from 1950 to 1961. From 1961 to 1981, he was chief of the surgical department at Kreuzspital Chur. Heim’s contributions to the AO were immense: He was a member of the AO Technical Commission (AO TC) from 1975 to 1987 and from 1982 to 1988 he chaired the AO TC Sub-Group for Small Implants. He served as president of AO International from 1988 to 1995.

Beyond his official AO roles, Heim contributed significantly as a prolific writer, educator, and innovator. In addition to The AO Phenomenon, he coauthored The Small Fragment Set Manual, Checkliste Traumatologie and Internal Fixation of Small Fractures, and authored Leben für Andere and The Pilon Tibial Fracture.

Heim died at 89 years of age on July 25, 2013.