Skip to navigation

What we're up to

News Thursday, May 25, 2017

A volunteer physician leaves behind a legacy

Influences other physciains in advanced limb lengthening techniques

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston continues to uphold the health care system's tradition of having physician volunteers provide their services at no cost to the hospital. These physicians are dedicated to providing quality care to patients. The Houston Shriners Hospital has 29 physician volunteers with hospital privileges, most of whom work regularly at the hospital. An exceptional example of this volunteerism is orthopaedic surgeon Brad Urquhart, M.D. After 40 years of volunteering weekly at the Houston Shriners Hospital, Dr. Urquhart is retiring. He leaves behind a legacy of compassionate patient care and innovative medical procedures.

As an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Urquhart was interested in all aspects of movement, but especially in lower limb lengthening procedures. He became a student of that science and, after years of study, brought the Ilizarov method of limb lengthening to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston. This method of limb lengthening involves the use of circular external fixation devices with a series of pulleys and screws, attached to the limb. The device separates the two ends of bone that have been cut surgically, by 1 mm daily until the desired length is achieved. The bone is lengthened gradually, and new bone forms in the lengthening site. Rehabilitation starts soon after the surgery to maintain muscle tightness and to preserve range of motion.

Dr. Urquhart’s work influenced a new physician during her residency at the Houston Shriners Hospital so much that she decided to work here and dedicate herself to furthering the development of limb lengthening procedures. Lindsay Stephenson, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon, has become expert in performing the Ilizarov method and is also looking ahead to the newest technologies. Her focus has been on an intramedullary nail, which uses an external remote control to magnetically lengthen the bone. It is less surgically invasive and less cumbersome for patients than traditional methods.

Dr. Stephenson’s goal is for Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston to be the first and only hospital in Houston to have a comprehensive limb lengthening program.