MedStar Health offers the first FDA approved treatment for long-standing, persistent atrial fibrillation

WASHINGTON– Two MedStar Health hospitals are now offering an FDA-approved treatment for patients who have had persistent atrial fibrillation for more than a year. The Hybrid AF™ Convergent Therapy is available both at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. MedStar Health physicians participated in the landmark CONVERGE™ trial, which provided the key data for FDA approval of this treatment in April 2021.doctors in operating room

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is an irregular heartbeat that occurs when a heart has lost its healthy rhythm. If not properly treated, AFib can lead to blood clots, stroke, other heart-related complications, and even sudden death.

Long-standing, persistent atrial fibrillation (LSPAF) is a particularly challenging form of this condition to treat. Some 45 percent of AFib patients cope with LSPAF, so the Hybrid AF Convergent Therapy is a breakthrough treatment for these patients.

“Historically, patients with LSPAF have been challenging to treat, and about half suffer from progressively worsening symptoms,” said Zayd Eldadah, MD, PhD, director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “This hybrid procedure will help improve the lives of millions of patients with severe AFib, and we are thrilled that we now have a new arsenal in our toolbox to treat what was once a very difficult disease.”

The Hybrid AF Convergent Therapy is a minimally invasive, two-part ablation procedure that uses heat to stop the erratic electrical signals that cause AFib and restore a normal heart rhythm. A cardiac surgeon performs the first procedure by making a small incision under the breastbone, to create access to the heart and then creates lesions or scar tissue on the back walls of the heart. An electrophysiologist then gains access to the inside of the heart and blood vessels through the groin, to deliver therapeutic energy to areas of the heart to destroy the abnormal electrical activity.

“There have been less than optimal outcomes for a population of AFib patients who simply don’t respond as we would like to after endocardial ablation alone,” said Brian Bethea, MD, chief of Cardiac Surgery at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. “This is the kind of technology we looked to the future for, and now it’s available. This is a double procedure we feel confident in offering our patients with persistent AFib, where the incisions are small, the hospital stay and recovery times are shorter and most importantly, the success rate is high. I’m so proud to be able to offer this to patients at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital.”

MedStar Health has offered convergent therapy for the last decade, and the recent FDA approval has moved the Hybrid AF™ Convergent Therapy to the forefront of treatment options.

AFib is the most common arrhythmia in the U.S. with one out of four adults over 40 developing AFib in their lifetime.  


About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

Media Contacts

So Young Pak
Director, Media Relations
202-877-2748
[email protected]

Debra Schindler
410-274-1260
[email protected]

MedStar Health First in Nation to Offer Innovative BEAR® Implant to Treat ACL Tears

BALTIMORE—Dr. Richard Levine became the first surgeon in a U.S. multi-center study to use the Bridge-Enhanced® ACL Restoration (BEAR®) Implant for the treatment of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, when he implanted the bio-engineered replacement in a 32-year-old male. Performed at MedStar Surgery Center at Timonium, an outpatient site affiliated with MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, the patient went home the same day.Dr. Richard Gary Levine, MD

ACL tears are one of the most common knee injuries in the nation. The BEAR Implant is the first medical technology to clinically demonstrate that it enables healing – or restoration – of the patient’s torn ACL. The approach is a paradigm shift from the current standard of care – reconstruction that replaces the ACL with a graft – and is the first innovation in ACL tear treatment in more than 30 years.

Every year, approximately 400,000 ACL injuries occur in the United States. A torn ACL does not heal without treatment, resulting in ACL reconstruction being one of the most common orthopedic procedures in the U.S. The ACL is a ligament stretching from the front to the back of the knee and is part of the tissue connecting the thigh bone to the shinbone. Tears to the ACL most often occur in athletes during a fast pivot motion, changing direction or stopping suddenly, or when landing a jump.

“We have historically defined success of ACL reconstruction as restoration of knee stability, however patients who have received this treatment have a high risk of developing degenerative arthritis as they age” said Dr. Levine, a MedStar Health orthopaedic sports medicine surgeon and principal investigator for the study. “Preliminary studies using the BEAR implant have yielded similar success rates in terms of restoring knee stability in addition to laboratory studies that have shown a significant decrease in the rate of knee degeneration. As one of the largest sports medicine providers in the country, we are very excited to be able to offer this to qualified patients.”

During an ACL reconstruction, the surgeon completely removes the remaining torn ACL and most often reconstructs it with a tendon from the patient’s own leg (called an autograft). Unlike reconstruction, the BEAR procedure does not have the morbidity of a graft harvest. The BEAR Implant acts as a bridge between the two ends of the torn ACL. The surgeon injects a small amount of the patient’s own blood into the implant and inserts it between the torn ends of the ACL in a minimally invasive procedure. The combination of the BEAR Implant and the patient’s blood enables the body to heal the torn ends of the ACL back together while maintaining the ACL’s original attachments to the femur and tibia.


About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

Media Contact

Debra Schindler
Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore
Phone: 410-274-1260
[email protected]

Brian Bethea, MD, Named Chief of Cardiac Surgery at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

BALTIMORE— Brian T. Bethea, MD, a widely published leader in cardio-thoracic health, has been named Chief of Cardiac Surgery at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, where he oversees management of the heart surgery program and quality initiatives, effective July 1.

Dr. Bethea, who served as vice chief of Cardiac Surgery at MedStar Union Memorial, and the regional chief of Outreach for the Baltimore region, receives the baton from Dr. Michael Fiocco, who is stepping aside from the leadership role after 18 years of service. Among his achievements, under his leadership, the cardiac surgery program earned a coveted three-star rating for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the highest achievable metric in the United States for the procedure. This put the team in the top seven percent of high-performing hospitals nationwide.

Dr. Bethea has participated in nearly all major U.S. clinical trials for transcatheter aortic valve replacement, (TAVR), and has been involved in early feasibility trials for transcatheter mitral valve repair and replacement. He was selected to participate in past trials for the mitral and tricuspid valves, including Tendyne™, MitraClip™, ENCIRCLE, and TRILUMINATE.

He is the only surgeon in Maryland to offer patients the latter two options. He travels the world teaching valve repair and replacement techniques to other surgeons and is widely published in all the major cardiothoracic medical journals. Dr. Bethea was among the first authors to be published on the topic of transcatheter mitral valve replacement–a rapidly evolving and expanding field.

“Dr. Bethea’s clinical interests involve minimally invasive approaches to valvular and structural heart disease,” said Dr. Stuart Bell, vice president of medical affairs chief medical officer at MedStar Good Samaritan and MedStar Union Memorial Hospitals. “This includes procedures such as TAVR, transcatheter mitral valve repair and replacement, transcatheter tricuspid valve repair and replacement, and multi-arterial coronary revascularization, so his level of expertise in the most advanced technology available for cardiac surgery bring an already quality program to another level. We are very proud of the work he’s heading up here, and excited about what that means for our patients.”

After earning his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma, he completed his residency in general surgery, followed by a fellowship in cardiac surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“I believe in providing personalized, tailored care to each of my patients. Whether it’s a minimally invasive procedure, an open procedure, or a hybrid approach, my goal is to find the method that will best fit the person, rather than the other way around. Since I have been involved in the development of so many new technologies, I can provide patients with all their options, so we can make an informed decision together. I wholeheartedly believe in a team approach to providing care, and view patients, their families, and their referring physicians as integral members of the care team.”

Dr. Bethea is board certified in thoracic surgery and is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.


About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

Debra Schindler
Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore
Phone: 410-274-1260
[email protected]

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Union Memorial Reach Milestone

BALTIMORE  — MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute experts performed a milestone one-thousandth transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital June 29th when they replaced the aortic valve in the heart of a 67-year old Dundalk man, without open heart surgery.

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital became a regional leader in performing transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR, when it was first introduced in 2012 as an alternative to traditional surgical aortic valve replacement through an open chest.

Using the TAVR approach, physicians are able to replace a patient’s narrowed aortic valve without open heart surgery. A new heart valve is inserted into the diseased heart valve on a small catheter inserted through the femoral leg artery. Once the new heart valve is expanded, it starts to work immediately. This is done while the patient’s heart is beating and the procedure takes under an hour.

Dr. John Wang, the chief of the cardiac catheterization lab and director of the structural heart program at MedStar Union Memorial, credits his team of interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, valve coordinators, nurses and techs for the momentous success of performing 1000 TAVR procedures, an option that was first available only to inoperable patients.

Dr. Wang said, “It has been an exciting journey to be part of this transformational technology. Prior to 2012 when we performed our first TAVR, patients had to undergo traditional open-heart surgery or were left with no options if they were too sick. Over the last decade our team has been able to impact the lives of more than a thousand patients with severe aortic stenosis. It’s an exciting time in cardiac care.”

Ken Rogers, the one-thousandth TAVR patient, called the procedure, “a miracle,” as he was preparing to go home the following day. “I feel great. I don’t feel any pain,” he added.

An estimated 2.5 million people over the age of 75, suffer with aortic stenosis, caused by calcium build-up in the aortic valve. The result is a narrowing in the valve which prevents it from opening and closing properly, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. The reduced blood flow increases pressure within the heart, causing the heart to weaken and function poorly.

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About the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is a network of highly acclaimed and nationally recognized cardiac experts and care programs spanning all 10 MedStar Health hospitals in the mid-Atlantic region. In the Baltimore area, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute experts are accessible at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, MedStar Harbor Hospital, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, and more than a dozen community locations.  MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is allied with the Cleveland Clinic, the nation’s #1 heart program, giving patients accelerated access to the most advanced research, technologies and techniques in cardiology and cardiac surgery. This alliance also strengthens excellent clinical care and enables high-level collaboration on research.

Media Contact

Phone 410-274-1260
Email [email protected]

MedStar Orthopaedic Institute Performs Region’s First Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

BALTIMORE —A team of spine experts led by veteran surgeons Paul Asdourian, MD and Paul McAfee, MD of MedStar Orthopaedic Institute, became the first in the mid-Atlantic region to use robotic GPS navigation to perform a lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) through a tiny incision in the patient’s side.

They first applied the technology March 23 at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital on a lumbar fusion case to replace two discs and align the spine of a 55-year old female. The patient had been suffering from painful, degenerative disc disease and arthritis in her lower back that prevented her from being able to stand up straight.

With a standard approach to fusion surgery, the spine is accessed through the abdomen, or posteriorly, through a large incision in the back.

“Going in through the patient’s side means you don’t have to cut through as many muscles or surrounding tissue, there’s significantly less blood loss and the incision is smaller,” said Dr. McAfee, a pioneer of the LLIF technique.

Dr. Asdourian and Dr. McAfee used ExcelsiusGPS® technology to navigate surgical instruments and hardware through a small incision at the waist, and with precision, safely and accurately removed the damaged discs, inserted spacer bone grafts to separate vertebrae and lifted pressure off pinched nerves. The robotics ensured visualization of the patient’s anatomy during the procedure, streamlined surgical workflow and reduced x-ray radiation exposure to the team.

“We can be more precise doing the LLIF approach using the robotic navigation,” Dr. McAfee said. “If you’re going to put something inside the human body, you have to figure out where to start and you have to figure out the trajectory to get to where you’re going. You spend as much time planning out the surgery as you do performing it but you go in knowing exactly which instruments you’re using, the size of the implant, and you’re not doing a  lot of improvisation at the time of surgery.”

“It's a more effective approach in trying to change the alignment of the spine,” added Dr. Asdourian, “so that we recreated the normal curvature of her back and she would be able to stand up straight. Having the robot to navigate the placement of your instrumentation so that you know that your instruments are in a perfect position, was hugely successful.”

The bone graft they implanted will bridge the two bones to promote fusion. Within three to six months, new bone cells will grow around the graft and fuse the two vertebrae, forming one solid piece of bone.

“Without the robotic navigation, we would have done this from a posterior approach,” Dr. Asdourian explained. “But to do so, you have to be more aggressive in removing bone with greater blood loss and it's a harder operation for patients to recover from. This case didn’t require a blood transfusion, and the patient is able to stand straight up. The case went perfectly and she’s doing great.”

Patients may be a candidate for LLIF if they’ve been diagnosed with:

  • degenerative disc disease
  • low-grade spondylolisthesis
  • mild to moderate scoliosis
  • symptoms that do not improved with physical therapy or medication

Patients may not be a candidate for the procedure if they have any of the following:

  • damaged disc at L5-S1, because the hip bone blocks access
  • severe spondylolisthesis or scoliosis
  • other problems that would prevent bone fusion
  • prior abdominal surgery near the kidneys

For more information on robotic navigation lateral lumbar interbody fusion, or to schedule an appointment, call: 410-554-2175.


About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

Media Contact

Debra Schindler
Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore
Office: 410-554-2496
Cell: 410-274-1260
[email protected]

MedStar Health Cancer Network Lights Hospitals Blue for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

In honor Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, several of our hospitals are illuminating their campuses in blue to raise awareness about the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

“In this country, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death, but it doesn’t have to be, said Dr. David Stein, regional chief of surgery and colorectal surgeon. “With the screenings, we can find polyps, or abnormal growths, before they turn into cancer. Treatments are most effective in early stages of cancer.”

Read more.

MedStar Union Memorial Utilizing Novel 3D Printed Talus Bone Replacements Customized Metal Implants to Preserve Joints and Maintain Motion

BALTIMORE —Foot and ankle surgeons at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital are making use of novel 3D printing technology to custom replicate the talus bone in patients suffering from bone death known as avascular necrosis (AVN).  Reconstruction of the ankle with a 3D printed replacement ensures a perfect match of the patient’s anatomy and averts the need for motion-limiting fusion surgery or amputation.

In December, orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Walter Hembree became the first specialist within MedStar Health to perform a total talus replacement with a 3D printed implant when he reconstructed the ankle of Kamonte Johnson, a 20-year-old musician and college student, whose talus was fragmenting and collapsing from AVN.

The talus bone is critical to the function of the ankle: it bears the weight of the entire body, and joins the two leg bones, the tibia and fibula, to the foot. Fractures of the talus are a common cause of AVN, which occurs when the bone dies from a lack of blood supply. However, the condition can also occur without any known cause.

The implant fabrication process begins by reversing CT images of the healthy talus bone in the patient’s opposite foot to create three implants of slightly different sizes. In this case, Dr. Hembree utilized Restor3D, a company in Durham, North Carolina, to replicate Kamonte’s diseased bone. During surgery, the best fit is determined, and the final cobalt chrome talus is implanted.

“Three-dimensional printing technology is becoming more prevalent but is still very young,” said Dr. Hembree. “This approach is a huge leap into the future of foot and ankle surgery. The patient had complete talar avascular necrosis. Without this technology, the options for this patient were limited and likely would have involved fusing his heel bone to his leg bone. After discussing options, we decided together that replacing the bone with a 3D printed implant would be a good option for him, and I was very pleased that we could offer it. The results have been exciting."

“I’m very active,’ said Kamonte. “I thought my pain was an overuse injury, but I went from walking ten blocks with the marching band, to not being able to walk at all. I couldn’t even put my shoe on, the pain got so bad. In my first physical therapy session, I was surprised at how much motion I already had in my foot. I am walking again without pain for the first time in years.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Hembree, or any of the experts at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute, call 877-34-ORTHO.


About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

Media Contact

Debra Schindler
Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore
Office: 410-554-2496
Cell: 410-274-1260
[email protected]

MedStar Health Partners with Baltimore Organizations and Stoop Storytelling Tonight

microphone and empty stool with spotlight onBALTIMORE, MD — MedStar Health and nine Baltimore organizations are partnering with the Stoop Storytelling series to present Of Substance, a free virtual forum where seven candid people will share their stories of thrill, peril, regret and their complicated relationships with drugs and alcohol. The event includes a special musical performance by Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, an American Idol Top 10 Finalist, and will stream live tonight at 7 p.m. on each partner Facebook page, or here.

The Stoop Storytelling series is a Baltimore-based live show and podcast that features people who share their true, personal journey. Partnering with MedStar Health are Jewish Community Services, Behavioral Health System Baltimore, Catholic Charities, Baltimore Jewish Council, Maryland Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, NAMI Metro Baltimore, Creative Alliance, Goucher College and Baltimore Magazine, to bring awareness to the impact Of Substance use, drive education, prevention and treatment.

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has identified September as Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders. Of Substance offers inspiring firsthand accounts of recovery that demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment and may mitigate stigma and misconceptions that potentially discourage others from seeking help.

"Jewish Community Services is committed to raising awareness about the potential risks of using drugs and alcohol," said Joan Grayson Cohen, Esq., LCSW-C, executive director for Jewish Community Services. "Through our work in schools and in the community, we know that young adults can be particularly vulnerable to some of the unintended, potentially life-changing social, emotional and physical consequences. JCS is proud to partner in this important evening of sharing and thoughtful conversation.”

“MedStar Health knows the impact substance use in our communities, and the first step that leads to solutions is to eradicate stigma that will provide education and courage to receive treatment,” said Ryan Moran, director of Community Health for MedStar Health. “This event offers the chance to do that through the power of sharing lived experiences with substance use. Our organization is proud to partner with some of the most important organizations in the Baltimore region to bring this forum to the communities we serve.”

For information, visit – bit.do/stoop-ofsubstance.

Media Contact

Debra Schindler
Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore
Office: 410-554-2496
Cell: 410-274-1260
[email protected]

Toe and Knee Bones Used in First Ever Double Flap Hand Surgery

BALTIMORE—Using a bone from a patient’s knee and a toe from his foot, Drs. James Higgins and Ryan Katz of Curtis National Hand Center, applied a novel and previously unreported approach to rebuild the entire thumb of a 45-year old Glen Burnie man at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, June 9. The complex microsurgery case used two simultaneous tissue flaps to reconstruct a thumb that was completely amputated in miter saw accident last year.

“I believe his procedure- the double flap surgery- is the solution for patients with particularly severe hand injuries.  Although it is a new level of technical complexity, it offers hope for patients with similar traumatic injuries to return to a normal life,” said Dr. Higgins, Chief of Curtis National Hand Center.

When a miter saw accident left a contractor’s hand thumbless, surgeons at Curtis National Hand Center made him a new one.

Samuel Dillsworth arrived at MedStar Union Memorial by medivac in November with an injury known as a complete thumb avulsion amputation, in which the thumb was pulled entirely off the hand at its base – where the hand meets the wrist.

Toes serve as a nearly perfect replacements for amputated fingers since they are similar in almost every way having bone, tendon, joints, nerves, arteries and veins. In the most severe injuries, the big toe can be used to replace a thumb because of its greater potential to match the appearance of a thumb with plastic surgery. By harvesting only the smallest portion of the toe needed to reconstruct the thumb, patients do not experience difficulty with balance or walking. 

“My hands are my life,” said Mr. Dillsworth, a custom fabrication contractor. “I build cabinets from scratch and I love what I do. I need to use both my hands.”

Mr. Dillsworth’s injury presented a particular challenge: he lost the entire thumb and a long length of the bones that support the thumb base.  The destruction caused by the accident would normally have made his case impossible to reconstruct, even with use of his toe.

“Because of the patient’s substantial metacarpal loss, we felt a [big] toe transfer reconstruction would result in the new thumb being too short for adequate function. We had to create a novel procedure to give him the ability to use his hand again,” said Dr. Katz. “We planned a procedure involving adding length to the toe transfer by using a bone segment taken from the lower end of the femur, along with the small vessels on the medial surface of the bone.”

To make sure the toe and knee bones survived after transfer to the hand, Dr. Higgins and Dr. Katz together performed two simultaneous complicated microvascular surgeries.  They harvested the tissue from both sites, (the foot and knee), each carefully removed with their attached small blood vessels that would enable them to live in their new locations. Removing those structures with their vessels is known as a flap.  The surgeons affixed the toe flap to the femur bone flap. They restored blood supply to the parts by sewing the millimeter wide blood vessels under a microscope, using sutures thinner than human hair.  Combining these two flaps together, the surgeons were able to create, de novo, a full length thumb.

“I haven’t smiled so much in a long time,” Mr. Dillsworth said. “When they pulled the bandages off my hand I was afraid it would look freaky because my thumb was my toe, but it looks great. The next day I was actually moving my thumb.”

“Mr. Dillsworth can expect to use his hand in the same way he did prior to the accident,” said Dr. Higgins. “Toe-to-hand transfer surgery is the state-of-the-art reconstruction for the loss of multiple fingers or the thumb. Perfecting this technique is so gratifying because it enables us to give patients back their ability to grasp. No single operation of the hand vaults a patient’s function so dramatically.”

About Curtis National Hand Center
Since 1975, people all over the world have placed their hands in ours – Curtis National Hand Center. From repairing traumatic injuries to treating repetitive motion injuries, arthritic conditions and congenital differences, our goal is to restore the patient's use of the hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder to the greatest degree possible. Our long history of experience, outstanding medical staff, and state-of-the-art facilities combine to create a treatment center that is the first choice in caring for the hand or arm, no matter how common or complex.

Today, Curtis National Hand Center is recognized as the largest, most experienced hand center in the nation. In fact, the hand center was designated by Congress as the National Center for the Treatment of the Hand and Upper Extremity. Call 877-UMH-HAND for a physician referral.

About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

Media Contact

Debra Schindler
Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore
Office: 410-554-2496
Cell: 410-274-1260
[email protected]

MedStar Health Foot and Ankle Surgeon Helps Competitive Athlete Get Back to Pole Vaulting

Stephanie Coleman tore her Achilles’ tendon in the middle of a decathlon, but that didn’t stop her from finishing her last two events. And thanks to foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Jake Wisbeck, it didn’t stop her from competing again. Learn more about her journey to back to pole vaulting. 

For an appointment, call 877-34-ORTHO or to learn more about Dr. Wisbeck, visit MedStarOrtho.org/Wisbeck

Media Contact

Debra Schindler
Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore
Office: 410-554-2496
Cell: 410-274-1260
[email protected]