Shoulder to Shoulder

A Kentucky visionary innovates orthopedics internationally

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LEXINGTON Central Kentucky is widely recognized as the epicenter for thoroughbred racing, bourbon production, and Wildcat basketball. But, it is also home to one of the first and finest shoulder care facilities in the nation.

The Shoulder Center of Kentucky, part of the Lexington Clinic Orthopedics Sports Medicine Center, emerged in 1983 when W. Ben Kibler, MD, FACSM, had a vision for a facility dedicated to comprehensive shoulder repair and rehabilitation. Kibler states, “I realized the Center would need to have a focused mission and a focused direction, and a plan of how to evaluate patients, treat patients, conduct research, and provide education that would benefit patients in this state and throughout the nation to get the best treatment for shoulder problems.”

Thus, the Center was founded and is now at the forefront of shoulder orthopedics. This is due in large part to the physicians at the helm who include Kibler, who serves as medical director; David C. Dome, MD, ATC; Peter W. Hester, MD; and Trevor W. Wilkes, MD.

On having a clinic dedicated solely to the shoulder, Hester states, “It’s a concept that helps keep us on the cutting edge and allows us to feel like we’re as well-positioned, well-trained and educated as any group in the country to tackle and halt the most complex shoulder problems.”

Putting Players Back in the Game

Many of those presenting with these complicated injuries are athletes, ranging from recreational to professional. The surgeons’ backgrounds give them a special insight into this population.

Kibler’s original interest in the shoulder stemmed from his playing both baseball and tennis and seeing the prevalence of shoulder injuries in these sports. After receiving his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and going on to an internship at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, Kibler returned to Vanderbilt to complete a residency in orthopedic surgery.

Similarly, Hester had torn both anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs) and dislocated both shoulders before getting out of high school. In college, at University of Pennsylvania, he played football and lacrosse, and was all too familiar with shoulder injuries among teammates. In addition, he worked with esteemed Manhattan orthopedic surgeon, Russell Warren, MD, who was the team doctor for the New York Giants. Hester states this background made him “destined for this job.”

“The research that guides treatment of many shoulder problems is being done right at the Lexington Clinic.”— Dr. W. Ben Kibler

Hester attended the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and fulfilled his residency in orthopedic surgery at UK’s Chandler Medical Center. He went on to complete fellowships in sports medicine at both UK and the Hughston Clinic in Columbus, Georgia.

Serving as team physicians, the partners at The Shoulder Center of Kentucky at Lexington Clinic have long-running relationships with Transylvania University, Asbury College, Union College, University of the Cumberlands, Berea College, and Midway College, as well as the Lexington Legends, the city’s professional baseball team.

With the rise in aging adults, individuals with arthritis-related shoulder issues also make up a significant portion of the center’s patient population. Wilkes, who joined the Lexington Clinic in 2009, is one of the leaders in arthroplasty and reverse shoulder surgery.

After graduating from the UK College of Medicine, Wilkes completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a sports and shoulder fellowship at Cincinnati Sports Medicine Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Center also treats those with other degenerative diseases and addresses a wide array of traumatic injuries.

Pioneering Procedures

When the current options for treating these problems prove inadequate, the surgeons at The Shoulder Center of Kentucky have opted to create new and better procedures. “We have developed two specific operations that are currently being used,” says Hester.

The first, based on basic principles from Dr. Augustus D. Mazzocca of UConn Health and developed by Kibler and Dome, is an operation to repair injuries of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint.

Describing the MADOK procedure, Dome says, “We developed a technique to use a tendon to reconstruct the ligaments around the shoulder blade and the collar bone to stabilize that joint. We’ve had really good success with it, and it’s been well-received within the orthopedic community and shoulder community at large.”

Dome received his medical degree from UK, and then went on to a residency in orthopedic surgery at Greenville Hospital System in Greenville, South Carolina and a fellowship in orthopedic sports medicine at Lipscomb Clinic in Nashville, Tennessee.

Also, using biomechanical principles and his deep understanding of anatomy, Kibler invented a scapular muscle repair surgery that is now considered the gold standard and has earned the Center widespread recognition as the leader in treatment and research regarding injuries of the scapula and its muscles.

Sharing the Wealth of Knowledge

Research and education also continue to be top priorities for the Center. According to Kibler, “The research that guides treatment of many shoulder problems is being done right at Lexington Clinic.”

The surgeons, who have a combined 65 years of experience, have written over 200 papers; edited, co-edited, or authored 13 textbooks; and conduct ongoing clinical trials.

As an internationally-recognized visionary in his field, a large part of Kibler’s role is to share his expertise through speaking engagements and educational symposiums. This year he will present in Arizona, Chicago, Boston, San Diego, France, Japan, and Columbia, South America. In July, the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine recognized Kibler’s vast contributions by awarding him the coveted Thomas Brady Award.

“It’s a concept that helps keep us on the cutting edge and allows us to feel like we’re as well-positioned and well-trained and educated as any group in the country to tackle and halt the most complex problems.”— Peter W. Hester, MD

Along with education, another strongly held value of The Shoulder Center is teamwork. To ensure maximum efficiency in healing, surgeons, physical therapists, and certified athletic trainers all contribute their expertise to create an integrated rehabilitation process.

In Hester’s words, the partners in the clinic, “push each other, support each other, encourage each other, and work with each other to make it a team approach. It’s a camaraderie and collegial friendship that allows us to thrive.”

On the Horizon

Lexington Clinic is committed to continue serving Central Kentucky with innovative, quality care. Lexington Clinic has served Central Kentucky for nearly 100 years, and is always looking for opportunities to expand its offerings to this region. The Shoulder Center of Kentucky also sees expansion and opportunity to grow in its future. Kibler says, “For our Shoulder Center, we have as our goal to be the regional leader in sports and arthritis, and being a world leader in the scapula. We have the people and the processes to make sure those goals are something we can reach and attain and maintain.”