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A Coordinated City-wide Hand Surgery Program

Steven McCabe
Steven McCabe

The new Director of the University Hand Program, Steven McCabe, grew up in Dresden, Ontario. He attended school and played hockey there until he entered Western Ontario University, where he completed two years of a biological sciences honours degree. He graduated from the University of Toronto medical school in 1980.

He was inspired to enter a surgical career because of the technical, visual, and mechanical aspects of the specialty. His leaders and mentors include Dr. Robert McFarlane from London, and Dr’s Ross Douglas, W.R.N. Lindsay, and Joseph Gruss. He worked with Dr. Gruss, Jim Murray, and Susan MacKinnon at Sunnybrook. Ralph Manktelow sent him to McMaster, where he was taught by the renowned epidemiology and statistics team of Sackett, Guyatt, Steiner and Norman. This important experience has had a steering effect on his career, especially his focus on decision analysis, learned in Allan Detsky’s decision class, and at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, where he subsequently taught a decision analysis course in the School of Public Health.

During 20 years in Louisville he had a thriving practice and an evolving interest in hand transplantation and microsurgery. Recently he spent a semester in Italy teaching research methods in Sienna on a Fulbright scholarship.

He has enjoyed reunion with his friends and surgical colleagues in Toronto. “In a city of 3 million people, it is remarkable to have one hospital called the Hand Centre. A highly desirable plan would be to develop a coordinated system of hand and upper extremity surgery with the many excellent surgeons in the city. There are approximately 23 hand and upper extremity surgeons who may join the program, using telemedicine, citywide rounds and a collaborative model.”

The second major thrust for the future is to join with David Grant, Ron Zuker, Stefan Hofer, and Ralph Gilbert, the new Chair of ENT Surgery, and the transplant physicians to develop a vascularized composite tissue transplantation program. Gilbert was McCabe’s classmate and goalie for their medical student hockey team. Rod Davey, also a classmate and his current Surgeon-in-Chief at Toronto Western Hospital, was a former roommate and a member of his wedding party.

group photo
Hand Program Staff: Back row from left to right: Brent Graham, Herb Von Schroeder, Lorna Aitkens, Dimitri Anastakis, Brett McClelland, Steven McCabe, Tola Afolabi. Front row left to right: Maha Nagarajan, Kauser Tarbhai, Lonita Mak, Mary Chang, Marianne Williams, Andrea Rabiewsky, Maryann Dow.

When he was studying hand transplant surgery in Louisville, he followed Maria Siemionow (http://www.surgicalspotlight. ca/Article.aspx?ver=Fall_2010&f=Main) who was working on a laboratory model that allowed in-vivo microscopic examination of the circulation in the living animal. He participated with Siemionow in the first hand transplant in the United States. His research has focused on decision making, carpal tunnel syndrome, and upper extremity utility analysis. With others, he is working with the Trillium Gift of Life Network to co-ordinate upper extremity transplantation for the province. “The provincial program will bring together the excellent microsurgery resource pioneered by Ralph Manktelow with the expertise that exists in transplantation of organs, and a noble goal. Provincial support gives us a funnel for allocating resources and testing new approaches to care.”


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