Canadian orthopedic surgeon and scholar (1921-1992). In the spine area,
Ian Macnab is well known for his researchs and publications on low back
pain and the outcome instrument Macnab criteria. Ian Macnab made outstanding contributions as researcher, teacher, and orthopaedic
Ian was the son of a Scottish shipbuilder who was living in India.
When Ian was five years old, his parents sent him home to Britain to
receive an education in an English boarding school. He attended medical
school at the University of Birmingham, graduating with first class
honors. After a residency in general and orthopaedic surgery, he served
in the Royal Army Medical Corps, from 1445 to 1947. He then completed
his orthopaedic training at Ihe Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in
London. He became interested in low back disability. With
the recommendation of Sir Herbert Seddon, he went lo Toronto in 1950, to
study the pathogenesis of low back pain, as a research fellow at the
Banting Institute with Dr. R. I. Harris. He established a university orthopaedic service at
the Toronto General Hospital. Ian Macnab acquired a passionate devotion and
pride for his adopted country, for Toronto, and for its orthopaedic
service. He was appointed Professor
of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Toronto and Chief of the Orthopaedic service at the Wellesley Hospital.
range of academic interests was wide. Although he was internationally
renowned as a spine surgeon, his most famous contributions are probably
his studies on the pathogenesis of low back pain. He also had expertise
in the areas of hallux rigidus, patellar dislocation, opponens
transfer, whiplash injuries, pathological changes in the neurocentral
joints of the cervical spine, lesions of the menisci, anterior tibial
compartment syndrome, the effect on osteogenesis of alternating
currents in bone, blood supply of the vertebral bodies and the femoral
head, the reaction of body tissues to ceramics, the microcirculation of
the rotator cuff, and shoulder arthroplasty.
As a teacher Dr.
Macnab was unsurpassed. To North Americans, his knowledge and
expertise, combined with his command of the English language and his
Churchilhan oratory, made him one of the most sought-after orthopaedic
lecturers and visiting professors. In his classic 1977 Presidential
Address "Seek and Ye Shall find" he stated "You
do not have to be a trained investigator lo discover. You must,
however, preserve your sense of wonder, your ability to be astonished
and you must be sure that your brain remains connected to your retina
so that you will not only see, but you will also perceive... Research
is just not a laboratory activity. More importantly, it is an attitude
of mind. Every surgeon must recognize his own potential in this regard
and not be content to Ieave advances to others. Seek and ye shall find".
Reference JBSJ. Vol 75A, No 9, Sep 1993.
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