The AO Foundation is a medically guided nonprofit organization led by an international group of surgeons specialized in the treatment of trauma and disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

They have released a popular online surgery reference guide, the AO Surgery Reference, which is an internet-based resource for the management of fractures, based on current clinical principles, practices and available evidence. It describes the complete surgical management process from diagnosis to aftercare for fractures in a given anatomical region, and also assembles relevant published AO material.

This fantastic resource is now available in app form as a free app for the iPhone.

This app is incredibly useful when evaluating a trauma situation infront of you by taking the user through a number of steps:

  1. Overview
  2. Diagnosis
  3. Decision
  4. Preparation
  5. Approach
  6. Reduction & Fixation
  7. Aftercare

This app review will primarily take the form of a case history of a patient with a distal humerus fracture to illustrate the strength and depth of information provided.

In the overview section, the user is required to pick the anatomical area which has an injury.

As our patient has a distal radius fracture, we select this area and this leads us to the diagnosis tab whereby we are shown all the major types of distal humerus fracture. Tapping on a particular diagnosis highlights further information including imaging and structures that may potentially be damaged.



Having selected a diagnosis, we are now presented with the Decision tab. This provides helpful information about the most appropriate type of treatment for a particular fracture. Again, tapping on a particular treatment brings up further information related to that specific procedure.


Having now chosen our treatment method (external fixation), we are now presented with the preparation tab. This outlines the key surgical positioning appropriate for the selected procedure.

The next section is Approach, which shows anatomical hazards and safe zones to be considered during surgery.

The section on reduction and fixation contains a wealth of information related to methods of reduction and how to maintain this. The quality of the diagrams is impressive and the level of detail is suitable for an orthopedic resident and higher.

The final section discusses the appropriate aftercare for a particular injury. This is  particularly useful to ensure that patients are aware of all the correct



  • Free


  • Detailed trauma reference including specific treatment and management
  • Lots of images and examples


  • Certain anatomical areas, eg forearm shaft/pelvic ring not yet available


  • AO Surgery Reference is a must-download for anybody with an interest in trauma and fracture management. The scope and depth of content is unrivalled on this platform and the developers have done a fantastic job creating a simple easy to use app. Highly recommended.

iTunes Link