Med School/Year Graduated: University of Arizona College of Medicine, 1990
Years in Practice: 20
What kind of discrete skills must a hand surgeon cultivate in addition to those he learns as an orthopedic surgeon? Do you also repair nerves and perform what might be called “plastic” surgery to make the hand look better?
ln addition to a five-year orthopedic residency, you must complete a year-long fellowship that gives you an extensive understanding of the intricate anatomy of the hand [and] its many different types of tissues including bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels and nerves. Although cosmetics is important, I focus primarily in relieving pain and restoring function.
What is the most common type of hand surgery?
Fractures, carpal tunnel and trigger finger, which is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis. That is where one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position because of inflammation around the tendon. It’s a fairly common condition related to repetitive gripping and is very common in patients with diabetes.
What is the most extreme or difficult case you’ve ever tackled?
Probably a little graphic to describe in detail here, so “viewer discretion is advised.” Gunshot wounds, severe crush injuries, finger amputations and open fractures when the broken bone protrudes through the skin.
You’re the go-to hand surgeon for the Arizona Diamondbacks. How did you score that gig?
[One of my] incredible mentors during my residency and hand fellowship at the Mayo Clinic – Dr. William Cooney – was a consultant for the Los Angeles Dodgers and had a picture on his wall of himself and his young son sitting in box seats at Dodgers Stadium. I thought that was the coolest thing and [it] inspired me to become a baseball hand surgeon.
What’s a surprising fact about the hand?
Each hand has 17 muscles, 27 bones, 29 joints and 123 named ligaments. This extensive anatomy allows for the intricate function of the hand. Together, both hands have approximately 25 percent of all the bones in the body!
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I have an English bulldog named Chuckle who is always ready to hang out – he even comes to the office with me. I enjoy working out, saltwater aquariums and fly fishing as well.
You went to ASU for undergrad and UA for medical school. Do you fear the fork or bear down?
Pass. I’m not touching that!