The first issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, September–October 1993, and the 20th Anniversary issue, September 2013.


Published 9/1/2013
David C. Smith

JAAOS at 20 Years

This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the appearance of the first issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS): volume 1, number 1, had a cover date of September–October 1993. As John W. Frymoyer, MD, the first editor-in-chief of JAAOS, reports in his guest editorial in the September 2013 issue of the “Yellow Journal,” JAAOS was launched to provide a quality clinical review journal to assist Academy members and readers in improving the care received by patients with musculoskeletal disorders. The bar was set high, and that goal has been achieved and maintained. Today, JAAOS is the most widely read clinical orthopaedic journal in the world, the “must have” resource for orthopaedic surgeons.

That first issue presented eight articles covering a range of topics—a standard that has continued to this day. Assisting Dr. Frymoyer on the first editorial board were four associate editors—a number that soon increased to six and continued to grow, until today the JAAOS Deputy Editor board has 10 members, including one who oversees the JAAOS self-assessment examination (SAE) continuing medical education (CME) program, which meets the requirements as mandated by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process.

Offering CME is only the latest example of the commitment the Yellow Journal’s editors and staff have made in responding to Academy members’ needs. The late Alan M. Levine, MD, who assumed editorship of the journal on its fifth anniversary in 1997, secured the acceptance of JAAOS by the National Library of Medicine for inclusion on PubMed.

Under Dr. Levine, JAAOS introduced the series “Perspectives on Modern Orthopaedics,” which dealt with innovations in treatment. Other series followed: “Advances in Therapeutics and Diagnostics,” summaries of pharmaceuticals or diagnostic modalities in the orthopaedic setting; “Web and Wireless Review” columns on the use of electronic media in orthopaedics; and “Surgical Techniques” articles featuring online video demonstrations.

During the era of William P. Cooney III, MD, who became editor-in-chief with the September 2005 issue, JAAOS achieved other firsts, including the following:

  • A switch from a bimonthly to a monthly publication
  • A spot in the Journal Citation Reports category of Thomson Scientific’s Web of Science service, where it has consistently shown high impact factor numbers
  • Publication of the first of an ongoing series of supplements generated by the annual Extremity War Injuries (EWI) symposia
  • The introduction of the popular quarterly column “On the Horizon From the ORS,” highlighting basic science advances that promise one day to have clinical applications

The EWI supplements, and others, have continued to appear under the current editor-in-chief, Jeffrey S. Fischgrund, MD, who has introduced the following refinements to keep Academy members current on clinical trends in the field:

  • The “Orthopaedic Advances” articles focus on current innovations in clinical orthopaedics.
  • SAE CME enables readers to obtain credits that can be applied to the ABOS MOC program.
  • Most recently, the introduction of “JAAOS Plus” webinars—online, interactive sessions focused on a particular article highlighted in a current issue of JAAOS—bring a new dimension to the Yellow Journal.

In this way, Dr. Fischgrund continues the tradition begun 20 years ago, as stated in Dr. Frymoyer’s initial editorial in the inaugural issue of JAAOS: “In the tradition of the Academy, we will make every effort to serve you, for this is truly your journal.”

David C. Smith is JAAOS managing editor. He can be reached at; JAAOS is online at