Physician Spotlight: Kurt P. Spindler, MD
...Physician Spotlight: Kurt P. Spindler, MD
...Kurt P. Spindler, MD
...When players ask too much of their knees, Kurt Spindler, MD, head team physician for Vanderbilt University's NCAA Division I varsity athletes, is the go-to guy for joints, especially knees and shoulders.
Athletic injuries to the knee usually involve the MCL (medial collateral ligament), the tendon on the outside of the knee joint, or the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), located inside the joint.
Since the 1980s and '90s, surgical techniques to repair knee injuries have been largely successful, but an increasing number of patients develop osteoarthritis in the decade following knee surgeries, especially those involving the ACL.
"Studies show that tears to the MCL heal very nicely, but the unique process inherent to the repair of the ACL reveals that there is a very toxic environment inside the knee joint," Spindler
wants to find out if there are ways of predicting or anticipating arthritis post-surgery with the same level of accuracy as accepted predictors for heart disease or strokes.As the lead investigator for MOON (Multicenter Orthopaedic Outcomes Network), Spindler will be using data collected from ACL surgeries in orthopaedic centers across the country.
"Our ultimate goal is to develop an equation to determine at the time of surgery what a person's risk profile is to developing arthritis," Spindler
With this information, surgeons can counsel patients to avoid actions that would lead to the development of arthritis in the knees.This is particularly important because so many young athletes suffer knee injuries. Spindler
observed, "What stops young people or athletes from playing sports is the development of arthritis in their knees."He
explained, "We can fix ligament instabilities and remove loose bodies in the knee, but when they wear away the articular surface, which leads to the development of arthritis, we have no cure for that."
Spindler knows about young athletes.He
grew up playing every sport available on the fields of Hasbrook Heights, New Jersey.He graduated with a BA in Biology and highest honors from Rutgers University and received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in Philadelphia.He
internship and residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
and a Sports Fellowship/Orthopaedics Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic.At Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Spindler is currently the Kenneth D. Schermerhorn Professor of Orthopaedics, holding an endowed professorship given in honor of Nashville's late maestro, a former patient.He is also Vice-Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and Director of the Vanderbilt Sports Medicine Center and the Orthopaedic Patient Care Center.Spindler
is a familiar site on game days as he
roams the sidelines of every Commodore football game and is equally at home at McGugin Center
Early in his
knew where he
wanted to focus his
"I knew I wanted to do research, and I knew I wanted to be a surgeon because I wanted to take care of the whole spectrum of evaluation, injury, surgical treatment and rehabilitation, and I knew I wanted to work with high-level athletes."
Working with athletes, he
said, "really sharpens skills, because your margin of error in getting them better is really small.The bar at which you have to practice and the level of detail is much higher with these athletes.There's a sense of urgency and 90 percent is no good.They can't perform at 90 percent; they'll lose.So if you can treat elite athletes, you learn the best operations, the best skills and technique and you can apply them to the rest of your patients."Spindler
also enjoys family activities with his
wife Teresa, his
high school sweetheart, and their children Eric, who will be a sophomore at UT, and Kelsey, a high school junior.
Always physically active, he
enjoys running, biking, working out at the Vanderbilt Orthopaedic Institute's
fitness center â€¦ and has competed in a few marathons just for good measure.He
makes time for exercise because it's great for your energy level and for stress relief â€" and it lets you eat more!Spindler
, who enjoys flying in the Vanderbilt Sport Medicine hot air balloon, and watching sporting events around the country, has landed in the perfect spot for his
ideal job â€" one that combines academics, patient care and working with high performance athletes.
"I'm one of those fortunate people who love what I do for a living," he