In Memoriam, Sigvard T Hansen, Jr, MD


Read touching tributes to Sigvard T.  Hansen, Jr, MD from fellow OTA members.

I have the wonderful memory of knowing, and working with, Ted Hansen for nearly 40 years.  He is the person responsible for my initial training in Seattle.  Then, since trauma was a “new” specialty at the time (1985), the program I was to return to (CWRU in Cleveland) was reluctant to have two trauma attendings to begin practice at the same time.  I was asked to spend a bit longer in Seattle, and when Ted offered me a job, I never looked back.  He encouraged us to manage whatever we could in the beginning.  So, Keith Mayo and I fixed everything: spine, general trauma, pelvic trauma, amputations, infection.  Keith left in 1990, and by then we had started assembling other permanent faculty at Harborview.  It was Ted that said instead of treating ALL the traumatic/reconstruction cases coming my way, I should select an area that I could focus on for the rest of my career.  That was around 2000-2001.  I became more focused on the foot and ankle as a result, and that is where my career has taken me.  Because of his influence, many of the procedures we routinely do today stemmed from his encouragement to think outside the box, not listen to the status quo, and move forward despite local and national criticism.  It was that confident “you can do it” attitude that prompted me to apply to the trauma fellowship in the first place.  Ted came to Cleveland to lecture us on general trauma, primarily femur and tibia fracture treatment.  Since we, as residents, were treating those injuries in traction and long leg casting, the thought of abandoning the “forest of femurs” we were managing in traction was very attractive.  I’ll never forget those three days, the last when he gave a talk on internal fixation of open ankle fractures, a heretical consideration by my attendings at the time.  I feel so fortunate that I worked along side Dr. Hansen for all those years, getting to know him in ways that one can when interacting with him every day.  I will miss him terribly, but know he is in a better place now.Steve Benirschke

Ted Hansen was an innovator and thought leader who didn’t follow conventional treatment teachings. In his initial professional life as an orthopaedic traumatologist, he was an astute observer and recognized that the early fixation of fractures in the multiply injured prevented the complications of forced recumbency, saved lives and got patients off of respirators and out of the ICUs more rapidly. He used his own observations to guide the treatment of his patients and in doing what he thought was the right thing. He bucked the status quo by adopting Gerhard Küntscher’s techniques and IM nail while being chastised by orthopaedic colleagues regionally and nationally for malpractice. Later in his second orthopaedic career as a foot and ankle reconstructive surgeon, he applied techniques of open reduction with restoration of normal alignment and rigid internal fixation to Charcot and other foot deformities and observed improved results over conventional techniques despite encountering similar resistance from colleagues. His contributions to orthopaedics are profound and now embraced by many.Brad Henley

For Ted Hansen it wasn’t about the fracture, it was about the patient. Traction, bed rest and spica casts led to bed soars, bladder infections, pulmonary embolism and death. Instead internal fixation allowed mobilization, protection of soft tissues and full recovery. He was criticized at first but led the way to the future of care of the traumatized patient.Bob Winquist