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Jacques Lisfranc de St Martin

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Written by Adam Sykes   
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 01:00
  • Name: Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin
  • Born: 2nd April 1790, St Paul, Loire
  • Died: 13th May 1847
  • Buried: Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris
  • Associations: Lisfranc joint, Lisfranc fracture, Lisfranc amputation, Lisfranc ligament, Lisfranc tubercle


Buried in a Parisian cemetery alongside the likes of André Citroën (of automotive fame) and Jean-Paul Sartre, the flamboyantly named Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin was a French surgeon and gynaecologist who once trained under the tutelage of Baron Guillaume Dupuytren . During his career he pioneered a number of operations including the removal of the rectum, lithotomy in women and amputation of the cervix.

Lisfranc forefoot fracture

He is arguably best known for his description of his self-titled injury, which involves a fracture within the forefoot (usually involving the 2nd metatarsal) and an associated lateral displacement of the lateral four metatarsal bones from the tarsel bones (the Lisfranc joint). This represents a disruption of the intermetatarsel ligament that stabilises the joint between the 1st and 2nd metatarsals (predictably named the Lisfranc ligament). This was first described by him during his time as a military surgeon in Napoleon's army around 1813 and occurred when riders fell from their horses with their feet caught in their stirrups. This twisting, high-impact injury is occasionally reproduced in a more modern setting on the fields of play of contact sports such as rugby and American football. A Lisfranc amputation occurs through a similar plane to the injury, hence the nomenclature.

In 1826, just two years after gaining his habilitation (a European qualification at a post-doctorate level), he was granted his own department in L'hôpital de la Pitié in Paris. However, despite his formidable reputation as a surgeon, researcher, scholar and teacher, his bellicose and pompous attitude towards his peers made friendships an impossibility for him.


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