In memoriam: A legend in orthopedic medicine

In memoriam: A legend in orthopedic medicine

By April Frawley
Dr. William F. Enneking

Dr. William F. Enneking

When he arrived in Gainesville in 1960 to serve on the faculty of the fledgling College of Medicine, William F. Enneking, M.D., was the only orthopedic surgeon in town. At UF, Enneking quickly became a legend not only in his field, but also among the students and residents he taught.

A renowned expert in the field of orthopedic medicine whose work led to a revolutionary treatment to save limbs during tumor surgery and redefined how physicians communicate about these tumors, Enneking passed away July 17 at age 88.

Enneking served as the first chief of the division of orthopedic medicine, later becoming the founding chair of the department of orthopaedics and rehabilitation.

“He was a major influence on two generations of orthopedic surgeons,” said Mark Scarborough, M.D., the William F. Enneking, William E. Anspach and orthopaedic alumni chair in the  department of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, and Enneking’s son-in-law.

Enneking was a pioneer of limb salvage surgery following the removal of bone and soft tissue tumors and was a founding member and past president of the International Limb Salvage Society. His basic and clinical research helped pave the way for bone and muscular tissue banking. He developed the staging system doctors use around the globe to classify the severity of bone and soft-tissue tumors. This system revolutionized how physicians and others in health care communicated about these tumors, said Kayser Enneking, M.D., a professor of anesthesiology at UF and Enneking’s daughter.

“His biggest scientific contribution was establishing the cognitive framework for how physicians talk about muscle tumors, and bone and soft tissue tumors,” Kayser Enneking said. “He defined the basic nomenclature, the terms, so people who had a background in these tumors could have conversations across disciplines because they used the same definitions. It’s called the Enneking Staging System. He really was responsible for making it possible for orthopedic surgeons around the world to be able to talk about the same thing. He carried the University of Florida flag across the world.”

In addition to his legacy at UF and in the field of orthopedic medicine internationally, Enneking was also instrumental in the desegregation of Alachua County’s schools during his two terms as a school board member.