Charles A. Engh, Sr., MD (1938-2022)

Dr. Charles A. Engh, Sr. at the 2013 Winter (Open) Meeting of The Hip Society (Chicago, IL)

Dear Hip Society members, colleagues, and friends:

It is with a heavy heart we share with you the news of the passing of Charles (Charlie) A. Engh, Sr., MD.

“Dr. Charles”, as he was fondly called by his patients, was an internationally renowned total hip arthroplasty surgeon and a pioneer in the development of the porous-coated cementless implant for hips and knees; an innovation that has changed the nature of joint replacement surgery worldwide. He received his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College in North Carolina and attended medical school at the University of Virginia. He completed his orthopaedic residency at Johns Hopkins and a fellowship at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC.

He practiced at National Hospital for Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation in Arlington, Virginia from 1972 through 1993, which was started by his father, Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic founder, Otto Engh. From 1993 until his retirement in 2010 he practiced at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. Throughout his career he focused on patient care pathways to improve the quality and consistency of the hip replacement experience.

At the start of Charlie’s practice, he was one of two surgeons in the Washington, DC area with an FDA license to use bone cement. Failures of cemented implants fueled his desire to find another method. In 1985 his work with cementless femoral fixation led to the first implant approved by the FDA for use without cement.  He was an ardent advocate for biologic fixation even when most leading hip replacement centers in the United States were just using cement.  He believed that cementless implants would provide long-term fixation and his autopsy studies proved that his theories were correct.

Charlie established the Anderson Orthopaedic Research Institute (AORI) in 1972.  It continues to provide ground-breaking research relating to total joint arthroplasty. Reviewing data collected on his patients enabled him to understand what contributed to the success of hip replacement. He was the first in the country to have data on the outcomes from cementless hip implants. Throughout his career, the goal of his research was to develop a hip replacement that would serve patients for their entire lives.  Along with his clinical and research work, he was instrumental in the development of the Anderson Clinic Post-Graduate Medical Education Foundation which has trained over 100 hip and knee arthroplasty fellows since 1983.

He was the winner of several prestigious awards including, The Hip Society’s John Charnley and Otto Aufranc awards, the AAHKS Lawrence D. Dorr award twice, and in 2013 – The Hip Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He published over 190 articles in orthopaedic journals and 19 book chapters, as well as a book on joint replacement.

Dr. Engh served as the President of The Hip Society in 2003-2004.  Charlie was a friend and a mentor to many Hip Society members.  He always enjoyed a spirited debate, and his love of life and easy smile were contagious.  He will be missed.

The Hip Society (in partnership with The Knee Society) will continue to present CCJR® meetings in memory of Charles A. Engh, Sr., MD (and in honor of Gerard A. Engh, MD).

Our thoughts at this difficult time are with Dr. Engh’s family, especially Andy and Jerry.