History of Bone Tumor Pathology
Moderators: K. Krishnan Unni and Franco Bertoni
Section 6 -
Fritz Schajowicz and Bone Pathology in South America
Fritz Schajowicz was born in Vienna, Austria on July 31, 1911 to a middle class family, being his
father a bank manager.
He graduated from High School in Vienna and he started Medical School at the Vienna University were he
got acquainted with the students' unions, their values and their ethic codes.
After graduating as medical doctor he started his practice, first as a surgeon. When he met Prof.
Jacob Erdheim in the Department of Pathology at the Vienna University, he started his practice in
Prof. Erdheim can be considered as one of the first specialists in Bone Pathology and he was the
mentor of many distinguished disciples who like Schajowicz were internationally prestigious such as
Weimman, Sicher and Gotlieb -histologically oriented.
Schajowicz worked for several years with Prof. Erdheim, excelling as one of his best disciples
and publishing together several papers on Bone and Joint Pathology. Following Prof. Erdheim's
suggestion, Schajowicz –being already a pathologist with expertise in bone tumors- decided to spend a
time at the Rizzoli Institute –Bologna, Italy- being Prof. Vittorio Putti its head. Prof. Putti was at
that time one of the most ditinguished Orthopaedic Surgeon and the Rizzoli a leader institution in this
And it was there that Schajowicz met Drs. Carlos Ottolenghi and José Valls -orthopaedic surgeons
from Argentina both of them disciples of Prof. Putti- later on, this fact would dramatically influence
By the end of 1939, the conflictive situation prevailing in the prewar Europe, determined that
Schajowicz, as well as many others, decided to emigrate. It was then that Ottolenghi and Valls,
knowing the outstanding expertise of Schajowicz in Orthopaedic Pathology, invited him to be a
member of their Institution in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Maipú Orthopaedic Hospital, only Center -at
that time- exclusively specialized in Orthopaedia in the country. In the "Maipú" Schajowicz opened
a Laboratory of Bone Pathology in 1940.
Those were tough times for Fritz since he had to revalidate not only his Medical Doctor's Degree but
also his High School Degree.
After these steps Schajowicz was appointed member of the Faculty of the University of Buenos
Aires Medical School, and started working at the County Hospital "Ramos Mejía" where he met Rómulo
Luis Cabrini who was meant to be his disciple, colleague and friend for the rest of his life.
Schajowicz performed most of his many original research designs and international papers with
Schajowicz got married to Adela Martinez, Argentine, with whom he had two twin daugthers, Mónica
and Graciela, whose godfather was the prestigious pathologist Lauren V. Ackermann, close friend of
In the '40 Shajowicz developed -in collaboration with Drs. Valls and Ottolenghi- a special proceeding
technique of needle biopsy to approach the vertebral bodies, reporting in several publications –as from
1948- its advantages, and technical details. Schajowicz was an enthusiastic supporter of this
method to obtain samples of bone lesion in all the skeleton, reporting in 1976 the results of a series of
more than 7000 core needle biopsies. This biopsy technique -which he helped to standardize- is now used
routinely in different Institutions worldwide.
Schajowicz obtained grants and technical assistance from the World Health Organization and the
National Institutes of Health of the United States.With this financial assistance and the aid of
volunteers, he was able to set up a Center of Bone and Joint Pathology, the site of the Latin American
Register of Bone Pathology, which began in 1962 in the modest locale of the Italian Hospital of Buenos
In those years he spent some time working in Oxford, England with Joseph Trueta in Osteoarthritis
of Hip and later in Gotteborg, Sweden with Prof. Carl Hirsch in Pathology on the pathology of the lumbar
disc and the cervical spine. In Gotteborg Schajowicz was helped in his research by two young
orthopaedic surgeons, Drs. Jorge Galante and Jan Najelssom.
Schajowicz joined the Department of Pathology of the University of Buenos Aires's Medical School as
an Associate Professor and later reaching the position of Full Professor.
Because his accomplishments were internationally recognized, the World Health Organization named him
Head of the International Reference Center for Histo-Pathologic Diagnosis and Classificatioon of Bone
Tumors and Allied Diseases, collaborating with him an important international group of specialists among
which were Drs. L.V Ackerman and H.A. Sissons. Out of this work in 1972 it was published the No. 6 of
the "Blue Books" with the Histological typing of Bone Tumours, International Histological Classification
Schajowicz also was Director of the Collaborating Center for the Histological Classification of
Odontogenic Tumours-No.5 Book- of the World Health Organization.
Schajowicz published more than 150 reports on Bone Pathology in international journals- J
Bone Joint Surg (A) (B), Clinical Orthopaedics, Science, Acta Orthop Scand, etc- being his main
contributions the histochemical studies on glycogen in normal and pathological conditions as the Ewing's
sarcoma, histochemical localization of acid phosphatase in bone tissues, the juxtacortical
chondrosarcomas, juxtaarticular bone cysts, sarcomas associated with Paget's disease, cystic
angiomatosis, giant cell tumor, osteoid osteoma and osteoblastoma, etc.
In 1977 and 1978 he was appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rush Presbyteerian St.
Lukes Medical Center, Chicago working in the Department of Orthopaedia having as head Prof. J. Galante.
It was there that he wrote-during his sabbatic year- his famous book published in 1981 "Tumors and
Tumor-like Lesions of Bone and Joints", Springer Verlag, in which he summarizes his long, intense life's
In 1988 he left Argentina for good establishing his home in St. Louis, Missouri, working as Bone
Pathologist at the St. Louis University.
In 1991 he was awarded the "Golden Star" from the city of Vienna as its prestigious citizen.
He died in January 1992 still in full activity and working on the revision of the second edition of
his book- 1993- and the second edition of the WHO Classification of Bone Tumors with nine international
Collaborating Centers- among them those headed by Drs. Unni, Bertoni, Adler, Martinez Tello and others-.
Fritz Schajowicz strict and exemplary worker, an enthusiastic mentor, having an exhuberant
personality and being at the same time a simple and sensitive man with honest and austere customs,
loving of outdoors walking and opera -specially Wagner's, Mozart's, and Richard Strauss'.