American Society for Surgery of the Hand

“It falls to few men to originate a surgical specialty." Sterling Bunnell, MD (1882-1957) did just that for surgery of the hand. He was a general surgeon in the true meaning of the word, and believed that surgery of the hand was a “composite problem requiring the correlation of the various specialties–orthopaedics, plastic and neurologic surgery–the knowledge of any one of which alone is inadequate for repairing the hand.”

From July 1936 until January 1941, Norman T. Kirk, MD, one of the first US army surgeons specializing in orthopaedics, served as Chief of Surgical Service at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco, California, where Dr. Bunnell had a thriving practice. In 1943, Dr. Kirk was appointed the Surgeon General of the US Army. Realizing that a large group of patients in need of reconstructive surgery required specialized care, he asked his friend, Dr. Bunnell – a general surgeon with an overwhelming interest in hand surgery -- to organize nine regional hand centers at Army Hospitals in the United States.

This Bunnell did, and between November 1944 and February 1947 he visited these centers eight times teaching the proper care of patients with hand injuries and organizing the surgical treatment. Dr. Bunnell’s monumental book, Surgery of the Hand (JB Lippincott, 1944), became the bible for hand surgeons and remained so for about 25 years. (312) 880-1900

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