Theodore Campbell Thompson

Theodore Campbell Thompson (1902 – 1986)

Theodore Campbell Thompson (1902-1986) was an American Orthopedic Surgeon.

Thompson was known as a superb teacher, clinician, and surgeon. He made many contributions to orthopedic surgery, especially in the field of post-polio deformities. He was appointed the sixth Surgeon-in-Chief of the Hospital for Special Surgery in 1955 and held the position until 1963.

In 1923, Thompson suffered a significant traumatic injury whilst working at a Steel Mill. His left arm went through the planer up to his elbow. He was able to turn off the machine and put it into reverse to extract his arm but in the process suffered severe soft tissue injury to the arm. Despite advice to amputate, a local orthopedic surgeon operated to save then arm after multiple tendon and skin graft procedures

Eponymously affiliated with the Thompson Test – described in 1962 independent of Sam Simmonds description in 1957

  • Born on November 11, 1902 in Ishpeming, Michigan
  • 1924-1928 Johns Hopkins Medical School
  • 1929 – Residency at Johns Hopkins under Dr. George Bennett
  • 1934 – Resident Surgeon at the Wingfield Morris Orthopaedic Hospital in Oxford
  • 1939-1945 During World War II, Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, heading the Amputation Center at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Bethesda
  • 1954 – President of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
  • 1955-1963 Sixth Surgeon-in-Chief, The Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS)
  • Died 1986

Medical Eponyms
Thompson Test (1962) [aka *Simmonds-Thompson Test]

Simmonds-Thompson test is a diagnostic tool for Achilles tendon rupture. The absence of foot plantarflexion on calf compression is interpreted as a positive test result and indicative of Achilles tendon rupture.

Simmonds-Thompson test result should be considered positive when the physical response to calf squeezing is aberrant and the foot fails to plantarflex owing to incongruity of the Achilles tendon, indicative of rupture

In 1962, Thompson had observed these same findings in a patient with an acute Achilles tendon rupture in 1955. He examined cadavers and noted that calf compression in the presence of a tear of <90% of the soleus still resulted in ipsilateral foot plantar-flexion. TCT published his findings in 1962

Original drawing of Thompson test 1962

Major Publications


Thompson was named after his maternal uncle (Theodore) and his paternal uncle (Campbell). However he liked neither name. He was called ‘Pete‘ whilst growing up, ‘Tommy’ by friends and family and ‘TCT‘ within the hospital…



Studied at the University of Oxford - BA BM BCh. British doctor working in Emergency Medicine in Poole, Dorset. Special interests include respiratory medicine, critical care, and wilderness medicine.

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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