Greg A. Merrell, MD gets a new patent approved

GAM_patentGreg A. Merrell was recently notified by the US Patent Office that he was awarded a patent on an intramedullary compression device.  The patent allows a novel technique for minimally invasive repair of forearm fractures.  Dr. Merrell looks forward to continuing his research on ways to improve patient care by helping them heal their injuries faster and with less invasive surgical techniques.

Prevent Unnecessary Injuries with these Winter Safety Tips

fb-snowblowerEvery year the board certified orthopedic surgeons at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center see patients with injuries due to careless use of snowblowers, frostbite and falls on ice.  If you’re spending time outdoors in the cold winter weather, please remember these tips to help prevent an unnecessary trip to the doctor’s office or emergency room due to injury.

Use your snowblower safely

Snowblowers are a great way to quickly clear snow from your driveway and sidewalks, but they can also cause serious injury if used improperly.  Avoid dangerous situations and unnecessary accidents while using your snowblower.

Please remember…

• Snow can clog a snowblower, causing it to temporarily malfunction.
• Propeller blades can still be in motion, even when the machine is turned off.
• Making contact with moving blades or parts can result in severe injury.
• Never remove and safety devices on the snowblower.
• Fill snowblowers with gas outdoors – not in an enclosed area.  If using electric snowblower, be careful not to trip on or run over the cord.

Beware of Icy Sidewalks and Parking Lots

When you’re taking a crisp winter stroll in your neighborhood or walking through the parking lot at work, use caution after snow has fallen.  Sidewalks and pavement can be slippery resulting in falls that cause serious injuries to the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hands.  Follow these tips.

• Wear sensible boots with thick, non-tread soles and low heels. Keep these in your car in case you become stranded or encounter car trouble.
• Thoroughly salt or sand your driveway, walkways and sidewalks.
•Wait until snow/ice has melted before walking on salted surfaces.
• Look before you walk.  Surfaces can re-freeze during nighttime hours, making sidewalks and parking lots slippery in the morning.
• Walk slowly and carefully, taking small steps.

Thomas D. Kaplan has one of the 5 most highly cited papers published in Journal of Hand Surgery

Kaplan Journal Certificate


The editors of Journal of Hand Surgery recently informed Dr. Kaplan that his paper, “Dupuytren contracture recurrence following treatment with collagenase clostridium histolyticum (CORDLESS Study): 3-year data,” published in 2013, is one of the most highly cited papers during 2014 and 2015. Congratulations Dr Kaplan.

The Journal of Hand Surgery publishes original, peer-reviewed articles related to the diagnosis, treatment, and pathophysiology of diseases and conditions of the upper extremity; these include both clinical and basic science studies, along with case reports. Special features include Clinical Perspective and History of Hand Surgery articles, Comprehensive Review manuscripts, and Surgical Technique articles that provide an overview of hand surgery, technical aspects of surgery, and current controversial topics.

For more information on the Journal of Hand surgery please visit

To find out more about Dr. Kaplan visit his profile.


Got Thumb Pain? Arthritis Could Be the Suspect

arthritis hand indiana hand to shoulder centerIf you notice increasing pain with activities as simple as opening a jar or turning a key, you likely are experiencing the effects of thumb arthritis, also known as basal joint arthritis. This condition is common in postmenopausal women, with nearly 25 percent of women eventually developing pain and other symptoms due to wear and tear on the joint at the base of the thumb.

For most women, thumb arthritis is not from prior injury. Men suffer from the condition with fewer incidences than women; however, male patients will frequently have a history of a prior injury.

The anatomy of the thumb basal joint depends upon two bones – the trapezium and the thumb metacarpal – along with several ligaments to maintain stability. These bones and ligaments are placed under tremendous stress on a daily basis. For example, if we pinch the equivalent of 10 pounds at the fingertip, the basal joint is placed under 120 pounds of pressure. During grasp, the basal joint may experience over 100 times the force. This repetitive force causes the ligaments to become thin, which leads to abnormal wear and, eventually, arthritis.

Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. Early disease typically responds to splinting and simple injections. As more conservative treatments become less effective and symptoms become unbearable, surgery becomes the best option for pain relief without limiting function.

Diagnosis is pain free. A simple evaluation and review of radiographs with an orthopedic surgeon usually is all that is necessary. Once diagnosis is confirmed, the physician and patient can tailor a team approach for the most effective treatment regimen.

James B. Steichen, M.D. awarded the Pioneer of Hand Surgery by the International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand

James B. Steichen, M.D., one of the original founders of The Indiana Hand Center, was recently awarded the “Pioneer of Hand Surgery” by the International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The IFSSH awards “Pioneer of Hand Surgery” status to any person who excels exceptionally, beyond what is normally expected in the field of hand surgery. The enormous contribution of the Pioneers to Hand Surgery will influence many generations of Hand Surgeons to come. Ultimately of course, their accomplishments will benefit countless patients far into the future. Current partner Thomas J. Fischer, M.D. was in Buenos Aires to receive the award.

james_b_steichen_award_1“Dr. Steichen was always devoted to his patients and always devoted and dedicated to education of his fellows. He was a classic educator who taught you how to take care of patients in the best way possible by example. He was an excellent clinical surgeon with skills that his fellows desired to emulate. He was an organized articulate lecturer. He taught his fellows how to approach complex problems in a logical fashion; and once I was in practice, he was the partner that I would go to for advice when I was presented with either difficult patients or difficult problems that I needed to solve.” said Jeffrey A Greenberg, M.D., who trained under Dr. Steichen as a fellow and worked with him as a partner at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center.

Dr. Steichen’s professional career began at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He graduated with an MD degree in June 1967. He then went on to complete an internship at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke in Chicago, Illinois; and ultimately, completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. Concurrent with his final 6 months of orthopedic residency, Dr. Steichen completed a fellowship in hand surgery with Dr. Jim Strickland at The Indiana University School of Medicine and St. Vincent Hospital. Dr. Steichen was certainly a pioneer as subspecialty orthopedic fellowships were not routinely completed in the early 1970s. Following his residency and fellowship, Dr. Steichen served 2 years in the United States Army at Reynolds Army Hospital in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he was the chief on the orthopedic service with a rank of Major.

Following military service, Dr. Steichen’s interest in microvascular surgery was evident as he sought additional training at a time when microvascular upper extremity reconstruction was in its infancy. Dr. Steichen was a research fellow in microsurgery with Mr. Bernie O’Brien at the St. Vincent Hospital Microsurgery Research Center in Melbourne, Australia. He spent time with Dr. Tsuge and Dr. Ikuta at Hiroshima University School of Medicine Department of Orthopedic Surgery in Hiroshima, Japan, and with Dr. Harry Buncke at The Ralph Davies Medical Center Franklin Hospital in San Francisco, California.

Dr. Steichen then returned back to Indiana where he started his clinical practice solely devoted to hand and upper extremity reconstruction with an emphasis on microvascular reconstruction. He and Dr. Jim Strickland cofounded the Indiana Hand Center (now known as Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center).

Dr. Steichen was the first vice president of The Indiana Hand Center from 1975 to 2000, member of the board of directors from 1975 to 2006, and the managing partner from 1988 to 1992. Dr. Steichen held hospital appointments at St. Vincent Hospital, Indiana University School of Medicine Hospitals including University Hospital, Riley Hospital for Children, Robert W. Long Hospital, Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center and Wishard Memorial Hospital. He also had appointments at Methodist Hospital of Indiana, Community Hospital of Indianapolis, Winona Memorial Hospital, Decatur County Memorial Hospital and at The Surgery Center of Hand Surgery Associates of Indiana. He held academic appointments at the Indiana University School of Medicine and was a clinical assistant professor from June of 1975 to 1982, a clinical associate professor from 1982 to 1989, and achieved the rank of clinical professor of orthopedic surgery in July 1989. He also held academic appointments at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky eventually achieving the rank of associate professor of plastic surgery on the voluntary faculty.

In 1972, Dr. Steichen was the first fellow in the Indiana Hand Center program. Once he began his clinical and academic practice, he was an integral part of the faculty, educating fellows and residents in hand and microvascular surgery. The fellowship that he helped establish was based out of Indiana University Medical Center and St. Vincent Hospitals and has developed into one of the most prestigious and sought after hand, upper extremity and microvascular fellowships in the United States. Dr. Steichen provided clinical teaching for nearly 200 fellows until his retirement in 2006. Many of the fellows that he influenced have gone on to lead strong academic hand surgery careers and many of his former fellows have become influential leaders in the field of hand surgery and various hand surgical societies. In addition to teaching hand fellows, Dr. Steichen was also involved in the education of the orthopedic and plastic surgery residents from Indiana University. He also instructed plastic surgery residents from the University of Kentucky that would travel to Indianapolis to do their hand surgery rotations. Over the years, he also influenced a number of residents and young attendings that visited the center not only from the United States, but from countries world-wide.


The majority of Dr. Steichen’s research interest had to do with microvascular reconstruction. Dr. Steichen was the founder and the former director of the microvascular surgery lab for fellow and resident training and research in Indianapolis. As part of his research activities, he was integral to the development of the 3M microvascular anastomotic coupler. He worked extensively with the 3M company researching and developing this device prior to its release and taught extensively nationally and internationally on its use. In 1991, Dr. Steichen was awarded the Sumner L. Koch award at the annual meeting of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Dr. Steichen also received 3 grants for clinical research projects including projects to evaluate upper extremity outcome following radial artery harvesting for coronary artery bypass surgery, a prospective evaluation of the 3M microvascular anastomotic system, and a grant to investigate the design and development of microsurgical instruments, which were eventually manufactured and distributed by Stille-Werner and are still in use today.

Dr. Steichen has edited or co-edited 3 books. Difficult Problems in Hand Surgery was published in 1982 and was a textbook that surgeons would refer to when faced with uncommon or difficult problems that were not addressed in more traditional text books of hand and upper extremity surgery. He worked with other microvascular surgeons to develop a Microsurgery Skills laboratory manual, which was published in 1984 and was a manual that budding microvascular surgeons could refer to as they were developing microvascular reconstructive skills. Finally, he worked with Dr. Tsuge on the Comprehensive Atlas of Hand Surgery, and he was the editor of the English language text version of this atlas published in 1989.

Dr. Steichen’s abilities as a clinical and academic educator reached a worldwide audience. Over the course of his career, he not only was involved locally and nationally, but also participated in many international societies. He was either a honorary or corresponding member in the Italian Microsurgery Society, the South African Society for Surgery of the Hand, the Venezuelan Society for Surgery of the Hand, the Brazilian Society for Surgery of the Hand, Colombian Society for Surgery of the Hand, the Swiss Society for Surgery of the Hand, the Group for the Advancement of Microsurgery in Canada, the Brazilian Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery, French Society for Surgery of the Hand, Japanese Society for Surgery of the Hand, Luxembourg Medical Society, and the National Academy of Surgery of France. He served as the president of the International Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery from 1993 to 1996 and was active in that organization since 1985. He was the vice president of the Pan-Pacific Surgical Association and also a member of the International College of Surgeons, International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand, Group Pour L’advancement de la Microchirurgie Canada, the International Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery, the Pan-Pacific Surgical Association, the Societe Internationale de Chirurgie, The Bernie O’Brien Society, and Harry J. Buncke Society.

On a national level, Dr. Steichen was also very active, he has been invited to address groups all over the United States more than 60 times. He has been a member of the American Medical Association, the American Fracture Association, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, the Hand Study Society, the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, American Orthopedic Association, and the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons. He was a very active member in the American Society for Surgery of the Hand serving as a chairman on a number of committees and task forces. He served as the chairman of the annual meeting program committee, the annual residents and fellows conference committee, the American Federation Task Force committee, the chairman of the combined meeting of the American and Japanese Societies for Surgery of the Hand, the chairman of the hand surgery practice committee, and also served on the executive council as a member at large from 1983 to 1985. He was also active in the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery serving not only on a number of committees, but on the executive committee including serving as the president in 1989. Over the course of his career, Dr. Steichen was the recipient of numerous professional awards and honors. He received the physician’s recognition award from the American Medical Association. He received the distinguished physician award from St. Vincent Hospital and Health Services. He received the Docteur Honorist Causa awarded by the University Henri Poincare in Nancy, France. He was nominated to the honorary council of Luxembourg. He was awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash by the Governor of the State of Indiana and also the physician community service award by the Indiana State Medical Association. Dr. Steichen was also recognized by the general assembly of the State of Indiana for his 25-year contribution to medicine in the state of Indiana in 2001.

The partners of the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center are appreciative that the International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand has recognized the great contributions of Dr. Steichen. The Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center continues to thrive in the tradition and mission that Dr. Steichen helped establish.

Indiana Hand to Shoulder Physicians Active at Annual ASSH meeting

The annual ASSH meeting was recently held in Austin, TX with several Indiana Hand to Shoulder physicians presenting during the meeting.

Featured in photo is Jeffrey A. Greenberg at the podium.



Greg A. Merrell, MD Recent Published Work

Dr. Greg A. Merrel has been very active recently.  He has 4 newly published articles as well as leading an international panel of hand surgeons to teach the latest techniques in nerve and tendon transfer at the recent 71st annual meeting of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand in Austin Tx.

Here is a list of the 4 recent published articles from Dr. Merrell:

1. Interpretation of Post-operative Distal Humerus Radiographs After Internal Fixation: Prediction of Later Loss of Fixation.
J Hand Surg Am. 2016 Aug 10.

2. A Multicenter, Prospective, Randomized, Pilot Study of Outcomes for Digital Nerve Repair in the Hand Using Hollow Conduit Compared With Processed Allograft Nerve.
Hand (N Y). 2016 Jun

3. Interobserver Agreement of the Eaton-Glickel Classification for Trapeziometacarpal and Scaphotrapezial Arthrosis.
J Hand Surg Am. 2016 Apr

4. The Effect of Progressive Extensor Retinaculum Excision on Wrist Biomechanics and Bowstringing.
J Hand Surg Am. 2015 Dec