Scene: A Royal Air Force station in Great Britain during World War II. Two medics, Tom and Fred are enjoying tea and toast. An officer arrives and orders the medics go out with a stretcher to retrieve a captured German pilot who was wounded when he ejected from his plane over British territory.
Tom: Dash it all, Fred, doesn’t this bloody Nazi pilot look just like the Nazi with the broken femur we just sent back through the POW exchange a few weeks ago? How could he be up and flying again so soon with an injury like that? He should have been bedridden with his leg up in traction for months!
Fred: Crikey, old chap, I do believe you’re right! [Addresses the Nazi pilot] Here now, tell us how you managed to get up and about so soon after cracking your femur?
German Pilot: Nein.
Tom: Come on, old boy, tell, are doctors in Germany so special they’ve got you cured already?
German Pilot: [stubbornly]: Nein!
Fred: Oi, maybe he wasn’t the fellow with the femur fracture anyway—let’s x-ray his leg and see!
Tom and Fred x-ray the stubborn Nazi pilot’s leg.
Fred: [pause] Tom, you mustn’t talk that way . . . [looks at x-ray] By Jove he does have a massive rod—in his thigh! It’s like a giant metal pin holding the bones together. I-I’ve never seen a thing like it!
End scene - exeunt all
That may not be exactly how we learned about the German invention of intramedullary rods, but so goes the lore among orthopedic surgeons. Intramedullary rods are long metal nails that surgeons use to stabilize and align certain types of fractures. The rod is inserted into the bone marrow, in the center of long bones (like the femur) and shares the load that the bone must support.single page
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