Riccardo Galeazzi

Riccardo Galeazzi (1866 – 1952)

Riccardo Galeazzi (1866-1952) was an Italian orthopaedic surgeon.

The majority of Galeazzi’s work focused on scoliosis, skeletal tuberculosis, acute arthritis in the infants and juvenile ostechondrosis. First surgical treatment of recurrent dislocation of patella.

Distinguished surgeon and academic with nearly 150 publications. World pioneer for occupational treatment and rehabilitation centers. In 1911 he opened an occupational treatment and rehabilitation clinic in Milan, thought to be first of its kind.

Galeazzi directed the Archivio di Ortopedia – Italian periodical devoted to orthopaedic surgery.

The Galeazzi fracture (1934) is named after him. Following review of >12,000 congenital hip dislocations, developed the Galeazzi Test to improve early detection.

  • Born in Turin, Italy on 17th August 1866
  • 1886 – Commenced studies at Turin Medical School
  • 1890 – Graduated medical school with honors
  • 1899 – Qualified as lecturer in Clinical Medicine and Surgical Operations
  • 1903 – Appointed Director of the Pius Institute for Crippled Children (Instituto dei Rachitici)
  • 1906 – Commenced teaching at the Orthopaedic Institute at the University of Milan
  • 1908 – Became Professor of Clinical Orthopaedics and Traumatology
  • 1911 – Directed Archivio di Ortopedia for 35 years, the oldest journal devoted to orthopedics
  • 1929 – Founding member of the International Society for Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology (SICOT)
  • 1934 – Published article describing fractures of the radial shaft with dislocation of the DRUJ
  • 1948 – Published ‘The pathogenesis and treatment of scoliosis’
  • 1952 – Died February 25 in Milan
  • 1961 – Orthopaedic institute pf Milan renamed Instituto Ortopedico Galeazzi

Figura imponente e serena, precisa obiettività diagnostica, sicurezza ed eleganza della tecnica operatoria, eloquenza robusta e forbita, cortese e riguardoso delle altrui opinioni

Piero Palagi speaking of Galeazzi, 1950

Imposing and serene figure, precise diagnostic objectivity, safety and elegance of the surgical technique, robust and refined eloquence, courteous and considerate of others’ opinions

Piero Palagi speaking of Galeazzi, 1950

Medical Eponyms
Galeazzi Fracture (1934)

Fracture of the distal third of the radius with associated distal radio-ulna joint (DRUJ) disruption.

In 1934, Galeazzi described radial shaft fracture with associated DRUJ dislocation and published his experience of 18 cases. He reduced the radial shaft fracture by pulling on the thumb with the forearm in the supinated position, and the ulnar head by radially deviating the wrist, and maintained the reduction using a plaster of Paris cast.

Galeazzi fracture 1934 original radiograph
Galeazzi R. Uber ein besonderes Syndrom bei Verletzungen im Bereich der Unterarmknochen. Archiv fur orthopadische und Unfall Chirurgie 1934

Das Phänomen  kann mit einem Bogen verglichen werden, dessen Sehne im Augenblick des Abschnellens des Pfeiles sich notwendigerweise verkürzt und so eine Uberspannung der Bogenkurve hervorruft, wobei die Enden der Kurve den stärksten Druck aushalten müssen.

 So wirkt demnach beim häufigsten Fall des von mir beschriebenen Syndroms, nämlich beim Fall auf die Hand, das Körpergewicht longitudinal auf die Ulna, und zwar verursacht durch die plötzliche und heftige Superposition der Radiusfragmente, die auf die Fraktur folgt.

Die Ulna, im Verhältnis zum Radius zu lang geworden, biegt sich zwangsläufig. Wenn der Knochen die Wirkung der Longitudinalkraft, die seine Biegung verursacht, nicht aushält, so bricht er. Leistet er aber erfolgreich Wiederstand, so ist er doch immerhin gezwungen, sich in entsprechender Weise an seinem unteren Ende zu verrenken.

Galeazzi, 1934

The phenomenon can be compared to that of a bow, whose string is necessarily shortened in the moment of shooting the arrow, thus causing an overload on the bow, where it’s ends must bear the strongest force.

As such, in most cases of the syndrome described by myself, namely the fall onto the hand, the bodyweight impacts longitudinally on the ulna, caused by the sudden and impactful superposition of the broken radial fragments.

The ulna stretches too long, relative to the radius, and bends necessarily. If the bone cannot sustain the effects of the longitudinal force, which is causing it to bend, it breaks. If however, it can resist, it is forced to dislocate itself at its lower end.

Galeazzi, 1934

Galeazzi fracture 1934 mechanism
Mechanism of combined injuries of forearm (fracture of one bone, dislocation of the other) Galeazzi 1934
Galeazzi Test (segno di Galeazzi)

[aka Allis sign or Skyline test] is used to assess for hip dislocation, specifically testing for developmental dysplasia of the hip.


Fracture pattern actually first described by Sir Astley Cooper in 1822 and published in 1824 some 110 years prior to Galeazzi’s publication. Cooper describes cases of radius fracture with DRUJ disruption and ulna dislocation

Major Publications



Eponymous terms


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 |

Physician in training. German translator and lover of medical history.

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