|Staff History Clinical Work Research Philanthropy Directions Fellowship|
In the photograph: Michael Matthew, M.D. (sitting left); Salem Samra, M.D. (sitting right); J. Grant Thomson, M.D. (standing left); Sepehr Sajjad, M.D. (standing right).
History of Hand Surgery
Hand surgery is one of the last disciplines to emerge as its own specialty. This specialty was founded through the combined efforts of general surgeons, plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, vascular surgeons and neurosurgeons and was thought to find its beginnings in the casualties of World War II. With an unmatched number of survivors with hand injuries, there was a growing need for advancement in the care of acute injuries that predictably lead to late hand deformities. As a result, there has been a push for a greater understanding in the treatment of hand disorders.
In this photograph (L to R): Kristina Liu, medical student; Yuen-Jong Liu, medical student; J. Grant Thomson, M.D.; scrub nurse.
Dr. Sumner Koch was a plastic surgeon that made advances in skin coverage, the treatment of tendon and nerve injuries as well as in the treatment of Dupuytren's disease. He was made president of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand in 1950. Sir Harold Gillies, another plastic surgeon, made great strides in our understanding of skin flap surgery. More recently, plastic surgeons have advanced the field of microsurgery. Neurovascular anastomoses are performed for thumb reconstruction as well as for digital replantation. As plastic surgeons, we can now transfer whole muscles from other areas of the body to restore function in the upper extremity. Improvements in our understanding of nerve injury and regeneration, along with refinement in microsurgical techniques has allowed us to perform procedures on peripheral nerves that relieve nerve compression or to repair injured nerves following traumatic events. The experience with nerve injuries and paralysis has naturally led to refinements in tendon transfers to improve function in the hand and upper extremity. Better understanding of muscle physiology, nerve repair and biomechanics has enable hand surgeons to restore function to the injured hand.