My old lecturer I have idolized: Orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. San Baw

In 1960 a Burmese orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. San Baw (29 June 1922 – 7 December 1984), pioneered the use of ivory hip prostheses to replace ununited fractures of the neck of femur. He was Professor Dr. Daw Myint Myint Khin’s late husband. He had lectured our class. One of the most brilliant Myanmar doctor. He was soft spoken and his style of teaching was also very good. But we all noticed that he was a chain smoker. Sadly only when his Ca Lung spread to brain, we knew the condition.

In 1960 a Burmese orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. San Baw (29 June 1922 – 7 December 1984), pioneered the use of ivory hip prostheses to replace ununited fractures of the neck of femur when he first used an ivory prosthesis to replace the fractured hip bone of an 83 year old Burmese Buddhist nun, Daw Punya.[2]

This was done while Dr. San Baw was the chief of orthopaedic surgery at Mandalay General Hospital in Mandalay, Burma. Dr. San Baw used over 300 ivory hip replacements from the 1960s to 1980s. He presented a paper entitled “Ivory hip replacements for ununited fractures of the neck of femur” at the conference of the British Orthopaedic Association held in London in September 1969. An 88% success rate was discerned in that Dr. San Baw’s patients ranging from the ages of 24 to 87 were able to walk, squat, ride a bicycle and play football a few weeks after their fractured hip bones were replaced with ivory prostheses. Ivory may have been used because it was cheaper than metal at that time in Burma and also was thought to have good biomechanical properties including biological bonding of ivory with the human tissues nearby. An extract from Dr San Baw’s paper, which he presented at the British Orthopaedic Association’s Conference in 1969, is published in Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (British edition), February 1970. With modern hip replacement surgery, one can expect to walk immediately post-op. Read all in Wikipedia…..


Total hip and knee replacements are  surgical procedures that replace diseased or damaged joints. They helped thousands of people worldwide, relieving their pain, improving their function and quality of life.  It is important for patients who are contemplating these procedures to be informed. The following pages attempt to provide some useful information but it is impossible to convey  patient specific details.
History and Evolution of hip replacement


For over a century clinicians have been trying to find a solution to hip arthritis. Early attempts included arthrodesis (fusion), ostetomy, nerve division, joint debridement and even excision arthroplasty. The earliest recorded hip replacement was performed in Germany in1891, when a Dr T Gluck used a carved piece of ivory to replace the head of the femur.  

Ivory was used again in 1960 by a Burmese orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. San Baw (29 June 1922—7 December 1984), to replace ununited fractures of the neck.




In the 1920’s a surgeon in Boston, Massachusetts, M.N. Smith-Petersen, M.D., conceived the idea of interposition arthroplasty using a hollowed glass shaped hemisphere. He later changed the material from glass to vitallium steel.

The process of evolution did not stop there, new and better designs were introduced. We now have a wide choice of implants with increasing number of permutations.


The earliest recorded attempts at hip replacement (Gluck T, 1891), which were carried out in Germany, used ivory to replace the femoral head (the ball on the femur).[1]

In 1940 at Johns Hopkins hospital, Dr. Austin T. Moore (1899–1963), an American surgeon, reported and performed the first metallic hip replacement surgery. The original prosthesis he designed was a proximal femoral replacement, with a large fixed head, made of the Cobalt-Chrome alloy Vitallium. It was about a foot in length and it bolted to the resected end of the femoral shaft (hemiarthroplasty). This was unlike later (and current) hip replacement prostheses which are inserted within the medullary canal of the femur. A later version of Dr. Moore’s prosthesis, the so-called Austin Moore, introduced in 1952 is still in use today.

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6 Responses to “My old lecturer I have idolized: Orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. San Baw”

  1. Michael E. Lorig Says:

    Why not use ivory today?

  2. secretary to mr h.s. plaha orthopaedic surgeon Says:

    do you have any photos of him that you can add to the site?

    • drkokogyi Says:

      TQ for the interest, I will search an publish.
      This is his son’s address working in Malaysia:
      Dr. Myint Zan

      Associate Professor

      School of Law

      Multimedia University

      Malacca Malaysia

      E mail

  3. Jonas Says:

    It seems unlikely Ivory would have problems similar to those encountered in modern day MoM devices (Debuy, BHR…) or Polyethylene. Ivory is a natural biological material, so it does seem it would be less likely to have adverse reactions–like those leading osteomyelitis and essentially surrounding structure destruction.

    Perhaps it’s reserved for Persian kings.

  4. Arkar Kyaw Says:

    really proud of my country and Pioneer Orthopaedic Surgeon
    Dr San baw.

  5. Arkar Kyaw Says:

    will increase demand and killing of
    Elephant that leads them endanger
    species.isn’t it?

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