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In Memoriam: Sigvard T. Hansen Jr., MD

by AOFAS | Nov 15, 2023


It is with great sadness that we report Sigvard "Ted" Hansen Jr., MD, world-renowned pioneer in orthopaedic traumatology and reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle, passed away on November 11. He was 87.

Sigvard T. Hansen, MDAs a surgeon, Dr. Hansen was known for his “golden fingers” and incredible 3-D perception. His treatment methods for polytrauma patients revolutionized the field. He introduced to the United States techniques from Europe, such as intramedullary nailing of the femur and rigid structural internal fixation with screws and plates, that were controversial at the time but commonplace today.

Dr. Hansen grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. He earned his medical degree from the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine, spending two summers at the National Institutes of Health when it was a new institution. After three years in the US Navy from 1962-1965, he went back to UW for his orthopaedic residency and completed a pediatric fellowship at Sheffield Children's Hospital in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Hansen was asked to join the UW faculty in 1968, while he was still a resident. Early in his career, he played a crucial role in supporting Harborview Medical Center’s mobile trauma system—now known as Medic One—that was revolutionary in delivering major accident victims to the hospital alive.

After joining the UW Department of Orthopedics, Dr. Hansen quickly became known for his leadership and innovation in the foot and ankle field, as well as his fierce independence and legendary disdain for bureaucracy. He brought the foot and ankle service to international prominence and served as Department Chair from 1981-1985.

Over his four-decade career, Dr. Hansen mentored more than 70 domestic fellows and scores of international fellows—many of whom have gone on to be division chiefs, department heads, and leaders in the AOFAS and the worldwide foot and ankle realm. He was an AO Fellow, winner of the AO Innovation Prize, and a founding member of the Orthopaedic Trauma Association. In 2019, he was named a Pillar of the AOFAS in recognition of his leadership and dedication to educating foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons.

As Dr. Bruce Sangeorzan noted in his speech honoring Dr. Hansen as the 2019 Pillar, Dr. Hansen preferred "doing" to writing peer-reviewed literature and believed observation to be better than any other learning tool. Dr. Sangeorzan described him as "the most influential person in the Society without ever having been on the Board or a committee."

Dr. Hansen leaves a lasting legacy on traumatology and orthopaedics. He will be deeply missed.