Physician Spotlight: Michael J. Salata, MD
February 17, 2020
Keeping hip joints in good working order
Innovations in Orthopaedics | Winter 2020
Hip injuries don’t discriminate on the basis of age or athletic ability. They affect everyone from teenagers to seniors, gymnasts to marathon runners, and even sedentary adults.
Michael J. Salata, MD, Director, University Hospitals Sports Medicine Institute and the Joint Preservation and Cartilage Restoration Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Associate Team Physician for the Cleveland Browns; and Associate Professor of Orthopaedics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, dedicates much of his practice to treating and researching hip arthroscopy and hip joint preservation surgery. He presents at national and international conferences yet can relate to high school soccer players too.
“Dr. Salata embodies the UH mission to teach, to heal, to discover,” says James E. Voos, MD, Chair of University Hospitals Department of Orthopaedics; and Associate Professor of Orthopaedics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine “He’s a national expert in hip arthroscopy and one of the highest-volume hip arthroscopy surgeons in the country. He’s also an academic leader and publishes volumes of studies relating to athletes and hip conditions.
ORTHOPAEDIC HIP SURGERY
As a student at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Dr. Salata didn’t intend to focus on hip surgery. “Many medical students shy away from the field because it’s so technically demanding,” he says. “As a trainee, that can be daunting.
Dr. Salata performed his orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There, he served as assistant team physician for the Division I University of Michigan football and hockey teams and assisted with Division I Eastern Michigan University football and basketball.
During his fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, his path forward became clear. Working with Shane Nho, MD, who is now the director of Rush University Medical Center’s Hip Preservation Center, Dr. Salata saw the benefits of hip arthroscopy, a new technique at the time. “I saw the power of that operation in changing peoples’ lives,” he says. “The hip is central to everything we do — walking, sitting, standing, as well as playing sports.”
After completing his sports medicine fellowship, where he served as assistant team physician for the Chicago White Sox baseball team, Chicago Bulls basketball team, Chicago Steel hockey team, and Chicago Public Schools high school teams, Dr. Salata completed additional training in hip arthroscopy. A University Hospitals physician since 2009, Dr. Salata focuses his practice on cartilage restoration, meniscus surgery and arthroscopic hip, knee, shoulder and elbow surgery.
Treating patients with musculoskeletal injuries has prompted dozens of research projects. “We have between 40 and 50 research projects going on at one time through the Sports Medicine Institute,” Dr. Salata says. “We’re always trying to move the needle in the evolving field of sports medicine, and continue to strive to be thought leaders in that space.
Dr. Salata is especially passionate about researching and treating hip injuries in young athletes. “We’re fortunate to have Robert Wetzel, MD and together we have started the young adult hip center, which treats local and regional athletes with hip dysplasia,” says Dr. Salata. “We continue to define the combination of arthroscopic and open surgeries that best help these patients.
WORKING FOR IMPROVED OUTCOMES
Drs. Salata and Wetzel treat patients with a team approach. They evaluate patients together. If a patient needs surgery, Dr. Salata performs the arthroscopy and Dr. Wetzel performs pelvic osteotomy — in the same anesthetic setting.
These procedures can very often be life-changing and joint-preserving,” Dr. Salata says. “We continue to work to make our practice cutting edge and offer something unique to expedite patient outcomes and minimize complications and downtime.
Over the course of 10 years, Dr. Salata has performed close to 3,000 hip arthroscopies. He continues to perfect his technique to help his patients get back on their feet as quickly as possible in an attempt to reduce the risk of long-term complications.
For example, Dr. Salata and his colleagues pioneered a new way to perform hip arthroscopy that helps reduce complications. “Traditionally, you have to distract the hip using a large post situated between the patient’s legs in the groin area, which carries a risk of a pudendal nerve palsy. This nerve injury can lead to numbness to sensitive areas of the groin area,” he says. “We helped to develop a way to perform the surgery without using a post, which eliminates this complication. UH is an early adopter and innovator in this technique.”
Whether in surgical innovation, research or treating young athletes on the field, Dr. Salata humbly credits his colleagues for their role in UH Sports Medicine Institute’s success. “We have a great team of residents, fellows and medical students that help formulate research questions,” he says. “Our role as principal investigators is to help the next generation go down the path we’re on. It’s a challenge to find the time. We all try to remember the ‘why’ of what we do, not just the ‘how.’”
If you have a patient with hip or groin pain, contact Dr. Salata at 216-553-1783.