The AO Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the care of patients with musculoskeletal injuries and their sequelae through research, development, education and quality assurance in the principles, practice, and result of fracture treatment. Distribution and sales of all AO products is done through Synthes via a subsidiary. From March 2006, Synthes acquired existing "Synthes"-branded products from the AO Foundation.
The foundation had it origins in a Swiss study group, Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (German for "Association for the Study of Internal Fixation", or AO), founded in Switzerland in 1958 and runs training courses on methods of bone plating and fracture surgical treatment in many countries. Growth led to restructuring and the AO Foundation was constituted in December 1984.
AO regularly hold courses worldwide for Orthopedic Surgeons and other health professionals. These include hands on experience of using the latest implants, as well as lectures from expert surgeons and discussions.
The foundation has a large impact in the field of Maxillofacial surgery and many of the foundation recommendations are used in that field.
The AO Foundation owns four institutes:AO Research Institute, at Davos
AO Education Institute, at Davos
AO Clinical Investigation, at Dübendorf
AOTK System, at Davos