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Large Joints Feature

Source: Wikimedia Commons and Cpl. Michelle M. Dickson

Top 28 North American Sports Knee Surgeons

Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed. • Thu, May 22nd, 2014

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Elite athletes with knee pain need expert help…and fast. To whom do they turn? We asked! Leaders in the sports knee realm let us know their thoughts on the top North American orthopedic surgeons in their subspecialty.

Here is that list. We don’t have “the market” on lists…this isn’t the be-all and end-all list—but it is a list of who are arguably the finest sports knee physicians, teachers, investigators or administrators in the country. This information was obtained via a telephone survey of thought leaders in the field. The information in quotes is what we heard about these surgeons.

In alphabetical order, here are the top 28 sports knee surgeons in North America:

Ned Amendola, M.D., F.R.C.S.(C), DABOS is professor of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation at the University of Iowa (UI) Sports Medicine Center. Dr. Amendola is the Kim and John Callaghan Endowed Chair in Sports Medicine and the Director of Sports Medicine at UI. He is past president of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine. “As an expert in both the knee and the ankle, Ned has a sophisticated understanding of lower extremity anatomy and kinematics. Coupled with his comprehensive understanding of tissue transplantation, Ned is widely viewed as a thought leader in the area of knee surgery.”

James R. Andrews, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon and co-founder of the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center. He is clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at the University Alabama Birmingham Medical School, the University of Virginia School of Medicine, the University of Kentucky Medical Center, University of South Carolina Medical School and adjunct professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of South Alabama. “Dr. Andrews is one of the pioneers for advanced surgical treatment and rehabilitation for sports injuries. While he is nearing the end of his illustrious career, he is acknowledged as one of world’s sports medicine authorities and has probably the most experience in dealing with athletic knee injuries.”

Elizabeth Arendt, M.D. is a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Minnesota and vice chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the same institution. “She does very specialized work with patellofemoral dislocations; much of her research is focused on patellofemoral instability. She does great work with pediatric patients who have the special situation of open growth plates. She is an international leader in the realm of patellofemoral surgery.”

Bernard R. Bach, Jr., M.D. is the Claude M. Lambert M.D. Professor at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. Dr. Bach is also the Helen S. Thompson Endowed Chair of Orthopaedics and Head of Sports Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. He is a past president of American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM). “He is an outstanding knee surgeon who takes great care of his patients; not all physicians are good doctors and surgeons, but he is. Dr. Bach is meticulous in his work, and he has a long history of ACL surgery. He has evolved this surgery from open to minimally open and then to fully arthroscopic.”

William D. Bugbee, M.D. is an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Scripps Clinic and director of the Adult Reconstruction Fellowship and of the Cartilage Transplant Program. He is an adjunct professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of California, San Diego. “He is a pioneer in the field of joint preservation. He has published extensively on these topics and is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on cartilage damage and osteochondral allograft transplantation.”

Brian J. Cole, M.D., M.B.A. is an orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, as well as professor in the Departments of Orthopaedics and Anatomy and Cell Biology. Dr. Cole is section head of the Cartilage Restoration Center at Rush University Medical Center. “He is widely respected for his cartilage work. When he looks at injuries he examines not just the one injury, but looks at the complexity of the entire knee. He is well known for meniscal transplants, and is an extremely innovative and research oriented surgeon.”

Dennis C. Crawford, Ph.D., M.D. is an associate professor at the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and Director of Sports Medicine & Cartilage Reconstruction at OHSU. “He is active in sports and knee and led the Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies of NeoCart. He sets himself apart because he is interested not only in clinical science, but basic science as well. He is adaptive and inventive as a researcher.”

Jack Farr, II, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon at OrthoIndy and a professor of Orthopedic Surgery (Volunteer) at Indiana University Medical School. He is also medical director of the OrthoIndy Cartilage Restoration Center of Indiana. “He has the experience to manage a patient with knee arthritis from A to Z. He is innovative, thoughtful, and is a technically excellent surgeon. He is always thinking of new ways to improve our current treatments.”

Freddie H. Fu, M.D. is the David Silver Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and chair Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). He is a past president of AOSSM. “He is a true pioneer in sports medicine and leading us into the next generation in the field. He has tremendous energy that is infectious; he is persistent and has built a superb research team at Pittsburgh. Over the last decade he has devoted his research endeavors towards the anatomy and biomechanics of the ACL. He is a very thoughtful innovator who takes a critical look at his results.”

Alan M. J. Getgood, M.D., F.R.C.S. is an assistant professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. He is also a sports orthopaedic surgeon at the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic. “He is rapidly becoming known for his work on articular cartilage, and is quite active in the International Cartilage Repair Society. He is developing a comprehensive book on meniscal transplantation, and is an energetic researcher and clinician. He has holistic approach, i.e., he looks at the entire limb. He understands the importance of meniscal alignment and stability.”

Scott D. Gillogly, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon and founder of the Atlanta Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, LLC. He is also the medical director of the Cartilage Repair Centers of America. “He is a pioneer in articular cartilage lesions of the knee. His research and clinical applications for this critical knee disorder have been acclaimed here in the U.S. as well as internationally.”

Andreas H. Gomoll, M.D. is an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and clinical leader in orthopedic surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “He has built a thriving practice in cartilage restoration and knee surgery. He participates in various knee trials and his approach to realignment surgery is one of great breadth. He is adept at meniscal transplantation, not just with Carticel but also autograft, microfracture, etc. He does his utmost to try and fit the best cartilage procedure for a given individual lesion.”

Jo A. Hannafin, M.D., Ph.D. is an attending orthopedic surgeon and director of orthopedic research at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) and a professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Hannafin is the current president of the AOSSM. “Her extensive experience with elite athletes has lent her great perspective in the treatment of knee issues. She is forward thinking in her approach to surgery, is a consummate researcher, and has exceptional leadership skills.”

Christopher D. Harner, M.D. is the Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPMC). He is also the medical director at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine and the Sports Medicine Fellowship Program director. He is a past president of AOSSM. “He is a terrific surgeon because he is scientific and is a real student of the literature. He is innovative and is honest about what works with his own cases. He does not hesitate to say, ‘This didn’t work with my patients.’ He is also a great educator.”

Darren L. Johnson, M.D. is a professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Kentucky. He is also the chair of Sports Medicine. “He does a significant amount of complex revision surgery and follows his patients very closely. He is very scientific, and is extremely honest about his research results. He also serves as head orthopedic surgeon for the Kentucky Wildcats.”

Robert F. LaPrade, M.D., Ph.D. is an orthopedic surgeon at the Steadman Clinic and is the director of biomechanics research at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute. “He is outstanding at merging basic science, translational research, and clinical application when it comes to complex ligament issues. He is an intelligent and thoughtful surgeon.”

C. Benjamin Ma, M.D. is chief of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He is also an associate professor in residence. “He is a leading researcher in cartilage damage of the ACL. He stands out as far as his surgical technique and education. His research, funded by NIH [National Institutes of Health], is a collaboration between orthopedics and radiology at UCSF. I believe the funding level is more than $6 million over five years.”

Bert R. Mandelbaum, M.D., D.H.L is an orthopedic surgeon with the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group. “He is a pioneer in the field because he is constantly committed to advancing and disseminating knowledge through leadership in many sports medicine organizations. He defines what a sports medicine doctor truly is.”

Matthew J. Matava, M.D. is a professor of orthopedic surgery and a professor of physical therapy at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “As the team physician for the St. Louis Rams he has led the way as a clinical scientist on the sports knee. His dedication to teaching and education in this subject has been a revelation in sports medicine.”

Eric McCarty, M.D. is an associate professor of orthopedics at the University of Colorado. He is also the chief of Sports Medicine at that institution. “He is the team physician for the University of Colorado Buffalos. He is an outstanding surgeon and has conducted award-winning research. He is active in leadership roles in the AOSSM.”

Mark D. Miller, M.D. is the S. Ward Casscells Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Virginia. Dr. Miller is also a retired Air Force Colonel. “He is a leader in education and has written many papers and book chapters on the knees. He has held numerous leadership roles in several national societies. He runs the Miller review course for the resident board exam for 20 years, which is extremely well attended.”

Frank R. Noyes, M.D. is chairman and medical director of the Cincinnati SportsMedicine and Orthopaedic Center. He is also president of the Cincinnati SportsMedicine Research and Education Foundation. “He was one of the early researchers in knee sports medicine who gave credibility to orthopedic sports medicine with his biomechanical studies. He has written ‘the book’ on knee surgery and is a go to person for the most complex knee conditions. He is a meticulous researcher and has investigated the double and triple varus knees and improved our understanding of posterolateral corner injuries. He is the crème de la crème.”

LTC Brett D. Owens, M.D. is chief of orthopedic surgery, John A. Feagin, Jr. Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Keller Army Hospital, United States Military Academy. “He is an associate editor for The American Journal of Sports Medicine and a prolific writer. He is an excellent surgeon and highly sought after speaker.”

Matthew T. Provencher, M.D., C.D.R., M.C., U.S.N.R. is the chief of the Sports Medicine Service at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School. “He is a self critical leader who will only grow in stature. He was in the Navy and treated active duty Naval officers who rely on their knees for their lives…these are people who stress their bodies even more than most elite athletes. He was recruited to MGH last year and I know for a fact that there were at least five academic programs trying to recruit him.”

Scott A. Rodeo, M.D. is a professor of orthopedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and co-chief of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. “He does important research on the knee and the effect of growth factors. He is a go to person for critical analysis of that topic in the U.S. He is a great educator and leader, and has dedicated an enormous amount of time and energy to the Olympic teams. He is calm and professional, and is an honest physician.”

C. Thomas Vangsness, Jr., M.D. is a professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. He is the chief of sports medicine at the same institution. “He is a great and innovative thinker, with all the attributes of a true clinician scientist. He consistently asks difficult questions and constantly pushing the envelope of knowledge.”

Russell F. Warren, M.D. is an attending orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery and professor of orthopaedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is a past president of AOSSM. “He has been one of the major thought leaders in orthopedic sports medicine for his entire career. He has trained 200 fellows, many of whom have gone on to become fellowship directors themselves. He is a surgeon’s surgeon; he is one of those individuals to whom other surgeons direct difficult problems to because he is so thoughtful and has such an enormous breadth of wisdom.”

Robin V. West, M.D. is an associate professor of orthopedic surgery in the Division of Sports Medicine at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. “She is assistant head doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is an outstanding surgeon. She interacts with professional athletes in a way that engenders a real respect form the players. Her work on stability in patellofemoral dislocation is excellent.”

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20 Responses to “Top 28 North American Sports Knee Surgeons”

  1. annon says:

    For the UPMC Surgeons, Dr. Freddie Fu’s office tells me that he will only see ACL injuries. And as for Dr. Robin West, who was my orthopedic surgeon and an excellent one at that, she is no longer at UPMC.

  2. john insall says:

    this top 28 is complete nonsense. most of these guys are self publicists, who like most north american surgeons are completely corrupt. notice how well this site has been sponsored. read between the lines people. these guys and gals are the top 28 b********

    • ellen says:

      if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

    • Sweetness says:

      This is a response to the comment saying this list is BS. Imho it’s not James Andrews does all the nfl knee Surgurys and Bugbee and Scripps the hospital he works at are among the best in the business. Both you can fact check

  3. Brant Williams says:

    These best doc lists are a joke. The real stars fly low and could care less about recognition. Consider that neither Don Shelbourne or Mark Sanders are on the list. Between them they have done 10,000+ ACL cases. They have developed such a strong word of mouth reputation that people from all over the nation fly to Indy and Houston for their services. If you rupture your ACL…. the first phone call you should make is to the Shelbourne Knee Center. If the phone is busy, call the Sanders Clinic.

    • Jamie Garcia says:

      Absolutely, Dr. Shelbourne did both my knee and my wife’s knee. We both played extensively for 5+years after our ACL reconstruction in division I and division II basketball.

    • ellen kalinosky says:

      if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. there is room enough on this earth for many great people and many great doctors.

      • James Brown says:

        Are you so daft as to really believe that? Critical inquiry is essential to making good choices. Why shouldn’t people see marketing for what it is?

  4. Pat Eldred says:

    Why not just say the truth? Dr Farr is the best, after the torture from another Ortho guy, Dr Farr, took my daughters messed up knee and preformed a perfect surgery, producing immediate effects on her knee.

    If your anywhere in the US, get a first or second opinion from Dr. Farr. You will be glad you did consult with Dr. Farr.

    • PerryMann says:

      I have torn meniscus and have seen 3 doctors so far. They were all so quick to offer surgery, they reminded me of used cars salesmen. They hadn’t even look at the MRI or the report and were ready to operate. I have healed back a number of times to full range of motion but any stress puts me back to square one. Looking at the comments here makes me doubt the veracity of this list. Any recommendations based on experience will be appreciated. I am in Los Angeles but I’m willing to travel. Thanks.

    • Christine says:

      Need more info on Dr. Farr. How about a website or complete name? Thanks!

    • Flora says:


      I am researching doctors as my elite athlete daughter who is just 16 and suffered a full ACL tear. Are you referring to Dr. Jack Farr in Greenwood, IN or Dr. Derek Farr in Ocala, Florida or Dr. Morteza Farr in North Valley, San Fran.

      I would like to check him out as you sang his praises, but I don’t know which one you were referring to.


  5. Jan says:

    My husband has bone on bone pain in both knees. I’ve been told the Steadman clinic has a procedure that places “stuff” in the joints that grows as to replace cartalidge. as an option to knee replacement.

  6. Andrea says:

    Dr. Riley Williams, Director of the Institute for Cartilage Repair at HSS in Manhattan should be here! He performed my knee osteochondral allograft and is giving me my active life back! He is the full package, excellent physician- scientist- surgeon who is down to earth, warm and approachable!
    -Andrea J.

  7. Alonso says:

    Dr. Riley Williams performed my ACL surgery on my left knee in 2007 using my own hamstring to replace. I used the gameready machine for relief of pain and swelling after surgery. No pain medications were necessary after surgery. I highly recommend this surgeon he is excellent and his practice utilizes the team approach to recovery (Works together with the physical therapist) I have not had any issues with my left knee and it’s been over 9 years since my surgery.

  8. Brenda says:

    I am in desperate need for a dr that knows everything about knee infections. In the bay area we have nothing. They all want to wait, wait and wait some more. Which is why the situation has become as bad as it has. Anyone have any suggestions? My father had 4 surgeries in 3 months and now is disabled by what they did. He needs help. We need help.

  9. August 17, 2016

    I’ m interested in:
    Dr. Jack Farr
    Dr. Frank R. Nayes
    Dr. Darren Johnson
    Dr. Robin V. West
    Dr. Riley Williams
    Dr. Shelbourne(Knee Clinic)
    Dr. Mark Sanders(Clinic)
    Dr. Steadman(Clinic)
    Dr. Cravens (Colts Surgeon)
    Indiana Orthopedic Center(doctors?- would like to know by name).

    I have both knees that are bone to bone that I have been dealing with for 9 years now, and at this time, I am in constant chronic pain and can BARLEY walk(use cane). My doctor will not prescribe me any pain medicine. I can’t take it by longer and am looking for an excellent expert knee surgeon in every way !!! Mostly because I have a great fear of having complete knee replacement on both knees done. I’m fearful of being put under, and the cutting, removing, replacing and etc. But I cannot take the pain anymore and my way of life I’ve been living, so I have put it all in God’s hands, and the Surgeons and attending doctors and nurses, and just get it done and over with! But I want the best surgeon I can get in my situation! And I’m willing to travel!

    As you can see my name is:
    I am on disabitity
    I have Medicare and
    I have Medicaid Ins.
    Thank You!

  10. Thanks for sharing your Top 28 Sports knee Surgeons blog with us. I also know a doctor that is specialized in Orthopedic and Spine Surgeries. My friend is also taking treatment from there in affordable price.

  11. Supratim Chakraborty says:

    Hello Sir
    Thank you for giving us such a valuable information….. But sir i have a question and i am little bit tensed about my left knee…. In this week i have an operation to reconstruct my ACL ….. Sir i am amture mountaineer i have my whole life to travel ….. Sir please give me some tips how i recover myself to run,trek, climb etc…. Sir i eagerly waiting for your reply

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