News Stories Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery WISE

Nerve Course Attracts International Audience

In April 2024, a multidisciplinary team of surgeons hosted the Washington University Nerve Course.

This continuing medical education course brought together specialists from the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery within the Department of Surgery, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the Department of Neurosurgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Learners came from medical centers across the country and worldwide for two days of intensive training in the latest approaches to nerve surgery.

The keynote address was delivered by internationally revered nerve surgery expert Susan Mackinnon, MD, the Minot Packer Fryer Professor of Plastic Surgery, who has made countless clinical and scientific contributions to the field.

“It is gratifying to see nerve surgery recognized as a complex, multidisciplinary specialty that includes physiatry, neurology, pain management, radiology, physical and occupational therapy, psychology, plastic and reconstructive, orthopedic and neurological surgery… all coming together to relieve pain and suffering, restore function and return joy and happiness to so many,” says Mackinnon.

Co-chairs Mitchell Pet, MD, Christopher Dy, MD, MPH, and Wilson Zachary Ray, MD, MBA, led the course, which included didactic lectures and dissection labs presented by School of Medicine faculty.

“We are incredibly proud of this WashU Nerve Course,” says Pet, an associate professor of surgery and director of hand and upper extremity surgery in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “Our goal was to model collaboration and demonstrate how each specialty in our multidisciplinary nerve team contributes to the success of our program. We were able to share that knowledge with practicing nerve surgeons from around the world.”

Hands-on training took place in the Washington University Institute for Surgical Education (WISE), a 3,400 square-foot training center certified as a Level 1 Accredited Education Institute by the American College of Surgeons.

“WashU has a reputation and expectation for innovation, excellence and impact in nerve surgery,” says Dy, an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery. “It’s no secret that our contributions to the field have grown significantly since Dr. Mackinnon’s arrival here at Washington University. She has mentored so many—in the clinical realm, in the research realm, and in the life realm as well.

During her keynote address, Mackinnon discussed the history of nerve surgery, from nerve grafts and transfers to the current state of nerve transplant. Didactic lectures covered imaging and diagnosis, head-to-toe nerve reconstruction, and expert approaches to specific procedures.

“It was remarkable to see the depth and breadth of expertise on display at the nerve course,” says Ray, the Henry G. & Edith R. Schwartz Professor and executive vice-chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. “Learners from around the world shared with me how impressed they were by the faculty and their presentations. This marks the first of what we hope will be many successful WashU Nerve Courses to come.”