The AO Foundation (AO for short) is a nonprofit organization based on a network of surgeons who are committed to the study, practice, and teaching of AO principles and their advancement in the field of trauma and musculoskeletal surgery.
Founded in Switzerland in 1958 under the name of "Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen", or translated to “Association for the Study of Internal Fixation”, the AO today represents the world's leading knowledge organization in osteosynthesis.
The AO organization works together with Synthes Inc. in the areas of research, development, education and quality assurance in fracture treatment for the benefit of patients.
AO Group and Synthes Inc. Relationship
At the very beginning of the AO Group, in 1958 the founding surgeons looked for a technical cooperation with an engineering and manufacturing company. Dr. Maurice Muller asked the company of Robert Mathys to help develop instruments and implants together with the medical members. In 1960, Hans Willenegger contacted Reinhard Straumann, a specialist who owned an institute in metallurgical research, Institute Straumann (later named Stratec) that later turned into the second commercial partner. In 1974, Synthes USA was founded to support the North American market and became an independent company and the third producer in 1978. In 1999, Stratec and Synthes USA merged into Synthes-Stratec. In 2003/2004, Synthes-Stratec merged with Mathys Medical to form the new global Synthes company, Synthes, Inc.
The relationship between the AO and its producers developed over the years into a strong, mutually beneficial partnership. The AO concentrates on research, development, clinical investigations and teaching, and Synthes on development, manufacturing, sales and service.
The AO is one of the few foundations without an endowment to finance its activities. It functions through the contribution of ideas and know-how as well as ongoing support in teaching and scientific activities from surgeons around the world. Synthes Inc. translates these ideas into SYNTHES® products for sale. In return, the AO receives royalties on these sales, which finance all its activities including surgeon courses and new research. It is a unique partnership that is providing unparalleled advancement of orthopedic medicine. It ensures a most effective use of royalties derived from the market, thereby eliminating a potential burden on public funds.
AO Technical Commission (AOTK) System
To constantly assess current SYNTHES products and develop new ones, the AO and its industrial partner, Synthes, Inc., works together in focused expert groups (EG) under the auspices of the AO Technical Commission (AOTK). These groups are made of expert surgeons and engineers working in concert to solve the latest surgical problems of that orthopedic specialty. In the field of veterinary orthopedics, it is the AO Veterinary Expert Group (VEEG) that plays this role.
The TK-System is a very special part of the "AO Family". Surgeons and engineers from different countries and with varying concepts work together to develop new improved implants and instruments in what are called Expert Groups. Expert members share ideas, know-how, experience, and sometimes even hopes, for the improvement of orthopedic medicine and the AO. For more information, see the AOTK link.
In the US:
AO North America Continuing Medical Education
1700 Russell Road
Paoli, PA 19301
Phone: 800-769-1391 or 610-695-2459
Course Registration: (800) 769-1391
Outside the US:
AO Vet Center
Equine Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Zurich
Phone: +41 (0)1 635 84 08
Fax: +41 (0)1 313 03 84