Giovanni Battista Monteggia

Giovanni Battista Montéggia (1762 – 1815)

Giovanni Battista Montéggia (1762 – 1815) was an Italian surgeon.

Monteggia graduated from Pavia, at the age of 17 and became assistant surgeon and anatomy prosector in the major hospital of Milan. In 1795 he was appointed professor of surgical institutions and “major surgeon”. 

His publications provided many descriptive contributions in particular to the pathology of the musculoskeletal system, and MSK trauma. He was ‘among the first’ to describe the pathogenesis of poliomyelitis from a clinical perspective.

Eponymously remembered for his description of the proximal ulna fracture with associated radial head dislocation, the Monteggia lesion, in 1814

  • Born on August 8, 1762 in Laveno, Italy
  • 1779 – Commenced studies at the School of Surgery, Hospital Maggiore in Milan
  • 1781 – Completed examination for the free practice of surgery at the University of Pavia 
  • 1789 – Published Fasciculi pathologici with detailed description of abscess formation
  • 1790 – Assistant at surgery in Maggiore hospital
  • 1791 – Chief Surgeon at the Royal Prison (studying and managing venereal disease)
  • 1795 – Monteggia treated Duke Francesco Melzi d’Eril after several physicians had declared him near death. Under Monteggia’s care, the Duke made a full recovery. To show his gratitude, the Duke presented Monteggia with an annuity and appointed him as his personal physician. 
  • 1799 – Surgeon and obstetrician at the hospital of St. Catherine; and official medical officer in the French army and a permanent member of the health committee by the Decree of the War Council.
  • 1795-1800 Chief Surgeon at Hospital Maggiore (The ‘Big House’)
  • 1802-1805 Published first edition of his masterpiece ‘Istituzioni Chirurgiche’, in 5 volumes
  • 1810 – Infected with Syphillis whilst performing autopsy on an infected patient
  • 1813-1816 Published second edition of ‘Istituzioni Chirurgiche’, in 8 volumes, including his description of the forearm fracture-dislocation which bears his name. Monteggia died before he could complete the ninth volume in the series, which remains unpublished.
  • Died January 17, 1815 aged 52, after experiencing fever and a skin infection that started around his ear and quickly spread over his face.

Medical Eponyms
Montegia Fracture (1812)

Fracture of the proximal or middle third of the ulna with associated radial head dislocation / instability.

1812 – Montéggia recorded two observations of a traumatic lesion distinguished by a fracture of the proximal third of the ulna and an anterior dislocation of the proximal radius in ‘Lussazioni delle ossa delle estremita superiori.’

La percossa di un bastone ruppe il cubito al terzo superiore e slogò il raggio al lato opposto. In questo caso fu il cubito stesso che cedendo al colpo portò fuor di luogo il raggio adjacente.

Monteggia, Lussazioni delle ossa delle estremita superiori. 1814; V(213): 109.

The strike of a stick broke the ulna in the upper third and dislocated the radius on the opposite side. In this case it was the ulna itself which, giving way to the blow, carried the adjoining radius out of place.

Monteggia, 1814; V(213): 109.

Monteggia Fracture Type I labelled

…ma mi sovviene con dispiacere il caso d’una fanciulla, che da una caduta parvemi aver riportata la frattura del cubito al terzo superiore di esso… il fatto è che al fine d’un mese, sfasciato il braccio e dissipata ogni gonfiezza che però nella sola lussazione del raggio suol esser poca, trovai che nello stendere l’antibraccio saltava fuori a fare una forte e deforma prominenza… mostrando in modo troppo visibile e manifesto, che questa era una vera lussazione anteriore.

Monteggia, 1814; V(260): 130-131

…but I can recall with displeasure the case of a girl, who following a fall, it seemed to me, reported with a fracture of the ulna at its upper third… the fact is that at the end of one month, the arm smashed and the swelling dissipated, which in an isolated luxation of the radius would be little, I found that by extending the forearm it jumped out to make a strong and deformed prominence… demonstrating in visible and manifest manner, that this was a true anterior dislocation

Monteggia, 1814; V(260): 130-131

1962José Luis Bado reviewed Monteggia original fracture description further defining the injury into 4 types. The Bado classification defines a group of traumatic ‘double bone‘ injuries having in common a ‘Monteggia lesion‘ (ulna fracture) with a dislocation of the radio-humero-ulna joint (radial head dislocation either anterior, lateral or posterior)

Key Medical Contributions

1794 – Monteggia was the first to describe the pathology of gonorrhoeal arthritis, Annotazioni pratiche sopra i mali venerei, an observation for which Sir Benjamin Brodie is usually credited.

1803 – Montéggia provided the first description of Peroneal Tendon Subluxation [Istituzioni chirurgiche. 1803; II: 336-341]

1814 – Extripation of os calcis for sarcoma [1859]

Major Publications



Eponymous terms


Resident medical officer in emergency medicine MB ChB (Uni. Dundee)  MRCS Ed. Avid traveller, yoga teacher, polylinguist with a passion for discovering cultures.

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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