When I joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine, I was fortunate enough to receive a commitment from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery to support international travel to centers of excellence in brachial plexus and peripheral nerve surgery. Without a doubt, one of the first places that came to mind for a visit was Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan. Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (CGMH)'s reputation as a center of excellence for microsurgery is known throughout the world. I specifically wanted to learn from Professor David Chuang, an internationally-renowned expert in brachial plexus reconstruction. Professor Chuang has completed more than 2500 brachial plexus reconstructions in his career, has published over 100 papers and chapters, and continues to show an impressive eagerness to advance the practice of nerve surgery.
With support from my family and my partners, I embarked on a trip half-way around the world to Taipei. After a couple of days to adjust to the time difference, I began working with Professor Chuang and his team of junior faculty, fellows, and residents. I was welcomed warmly and immediately integrated into the team. During my 2 weeks at CGMH, I spent time with the team in the clinic and in the operating room. In the clinic, I was able to see the short-term and long-term results of Professor Chuang's brachial plexus reconstructions, which are without a doubt very impressive. In the operating room, I observed Professor Chuang and his team perform a number of brachial plexus explorations and reconstructions, using strategies and techniques perfected over a 30+ year career in microsurgery. I greatly enjoyed my conversations with him about his preoperative planning, intraoperative decision-making, and specific surgical techniques (many of which he has developed and disseminated to microsurgeons across the world). There is nothing quite like learning the "Tips and Tricks" directly from a master surgeon!
I am excited to share (and apply) this knowledge with my partners, our trainees, and our patients. I am hopeful that all future trips will be as beneficial as my trip to CGMH in Taiwan!
Christopher J. Dy, MD MPH