It all began more than 30 years ago, in 1983. At that time, the Frank Stinchfield’s Hip Society already had been active for 15 years, fostering a leadership experience in total hip arthroplasty. This was the time when total knee arthroplasty, also, was growing as a successful treatment for knee arthritis. The development of total knee arthroplasty in the 1970’s included diverse opinions on implant design and surgical technique. As the excellent five-year results of the total condylar prosthesis became available, there was a clear need for exchange of ideas on implant design and surgical technique among surgeons and engineers.
Recognizing this need for a forum for intellectual exchange of concepts in total knee arthroplasty, on April 2, 1982, Chitranjan Ranawat sent a letter to Donald Kettlekamp in which he outlined his thoughts on organizing a small elite group of surgeons interested in creating The Society of Total Knee Arthroplasty, with plans to meet at the 1983 AAOS Annual Meeting. The main goal of this group was to bring together the scientific information related to total knee arthroplasty. Over the ensuing months, Chit and Don composed a list of interested members. By November 1982, the initial group included Clement Sledge, Norman Scott, Richard Scott, David Hungerford, John N. Insall, Lawrence Dorr, Charles Townley, Paul Lotke and Thomas Sculco. In final preparations for the inaugural meeting at the 1983 AAOS Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA, Chit also sent invitations on January 11, 1983, to James Rand, David Murray, Lester Borden, Alan Wilde, J. Allen Lacey, S. David Stulberg and Richard Bryan. The initial responses from the invited members were mixed: while many were enthusiastic, some felt this new knee arthroplasty “club” should be a subsection of the International Society of the Knee. Yet, there was enough overall interest in this concept of a social and academic club with focus not only on total knee arthroplasty, but also on reconstructive surgery of the knee. The Knee Society then had its beginning.
This select group met on March 13, 1983, at a dinner hosted by Chit Ranawat in Anaheim, CA, during the 1983 AAOS Annual Meeting. This became the first official meeting of The Knee Society. Attendees at the dinner meeting were Drs. Chitranjan Ranawat, Lester Borden, Richard Bryan, Lawrence Dorr, John N. Insall, Paul Lotke, David Murray, John Moreland, James Rand, W. Norman Scott, Richard Scott, Thomas Sculco, and Charles Townley. The consensus of the meeting was the creation of a society for education and research in the area of total knee arthroplasty as well as in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis and other disease processes that lead to end stage arthritis of the knee.
The group also formulated the purposes of The Knee Society: 1) to advance the knowledge of the knee joint in health and disease; 2) to provide an appropriate educational setting that will maintain the highest level of professional standards in order to promote continuous advancement in professional knowledge and improved treatment of disorders of the knee; 3) to create an optimum environment to enhance education, research and treatment of arthritis of the knee joint; and 4) to promote and maintain professional standards to provide the best care to patients with arthritic disorders of the knee joint.
Once founded in 1983, the membership of The Knee Society has continued to grow. Active membership was initially being offered to surgeons in North America with an academic interest in total knee arthroplasty. Honorary membership was extended to prominent knee surgeons who resided outside of North America. In 2004, an International membership category was created. A broad spectrum of membership was sought with the goal to establish membership by invitation based upon a proven ability to perform research and teach, as well possession of exceptional skills as a clinician and a surgeon. The initial membership was comprised of 20 members representing 11 states and 15 academic affiliations. Today, the current membership of The Knee Society is 109 active, 39 emeritus, 15 honorary, and 10 international members. Our members represent 9 countries, 30 US states, and 72 academic institutions.
The future of the Society is secure with the annual addition of new members who challenge their older peers with provocative new ideas and exciting basic research. This leads us to the conclusion that the history of The Knee Society is rich with accomplishments and contributions to the field of knee surgery. This is history in the making, more chapters are yet to be written, and all of us – members of The Knee Society – are a part of this inspirational story.