September 2003

Dr. Philip Stegemann -
Leading Orthopaedic Surgeon

by Joseph Radder

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The sign outside the building says University Orthopaedics. Some people spell it without the “a”. But no matter how you spell it, you won’t find a person anywhere in New York more skilled in the art of orthopaedic surgery than Dr. Philip Stegemann, head of the Orthopaedics department at Erie County Medical Center. The headquarters for SUNY’s orthopaedics department is also located here.

Like the good teacher he is, he makes the complicated sound so very simple and clear. For example, he gave us the best explanation of arthritis we’ve ever heard. He compared the cartilage in the joint socket and ball (for example, the shoulder, the knee, or the hip) to the tread on an automobile tire. When the cartilage wears away you have a “bald tire” and with the cartilage cushion gone, the result is pain.

Stegemann is not only head of the department at ECMC, he is one of New York State’s leading orthopaedic surgeons, specializing in shoulder replacement.

“The Orthopaedic Department has always been one of the mainstays of the hospital (ECMC), and it continues to grow in terms of clinics operated, patients treated and surgeries performed.” Dr. Stegemann told us. “Many doctors send their difficult cases here.”

Orthopaedics is apparently much more than “the correction of skeletal deficiencies” as the dictionary describes it. “There are a whole bunch of other things that go along with it”, Dr. Stegemann explains. “There are many specialties, concerning the spine, sports medicine, shoulders, knees, hands and hips, sometimes involving total joint replacement and pediatric orthopaedics too.”

ECMCs Orthopaedics department treats a lot of fractures as well. “A very common scenario, especially in the summertime, occurs when a motorcyclist is hit by a car. He is brought into the hospital by helicopter and a trauma team goes to work immediately. If bone injuries are involved, an orthopaedic surgeon is part of that team. Sometimes immediate surgery is required, for example in cases of “open” fractures where the broken bone has punctured the skin. The patient is taken immediately to the operating room, no matter what time of day or night it might be.

ECMC has six full time orthopaedic doctors as well as some part-time. Most of these are also involved in teaching UB medical students in the University Orthopaedics Department.

The proposed name change from Erie County Medical Center to the University Medical Center would be very appropriate because orthopaedics at this hospital has always been a mainstay for the University Orthopaedics Department. Most of the fifteen doctors in the SUNY Orthopaedics Department are based at ECMC. Others are at Buffalo General and Women and Childrens Hospitals.

We asked about Buffalo’s high percentage of older population as a factor in the orthopaedic case load. Dr. Stegemann said “The more older people you have, the more non-trauma cases (like arthritis) require orthopaedic surgery.”

Philip Stegemann was born on the north shore of Long Island, in Glen Cove, N.Y. in 1956 However, he grew up in Rochester, attending elementary and high school in Brighton. His interest in orthopaedics dates back to those days when he was intrigued by a skeleton in the office of one of his neighbors, Dr. John States, a very well-known Rochester orthopaedic surgeon,

Stegemann’s father, Robert, a World War II veteran, earned his masters degree at Union College in 1947, and as a CPA worked for many years as comptroller of the Sybron Corporation in Rochester. His mother, Barbara Scott Stegemann, in addition to sharing parenthood of five children, utilized her masters degree in English as an elementary school teacher. His three brothers—Tom, an orthodontist, Peter, a bio engineer, and Robert, a public relations executive, live in Portland Maine, Syracuse and Albany. His sister, a minister’s wife, lives in Santa Barbara, California.

All the male members of the Stegemann family graduated from Union College, beginning with their father in the class of ‘47. Philip earned his medical degree at the University of Buffalo in 1982.

Philip Stegemann and Maureen Hanrahan were married in 1984 in Buffalo. They have three children, Andrew, 16, Lauren, 15, both in high school and Christopher, 12, a middle school student. Mrs. Stegemann, an RN, recently earned a Masters degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner at D’Youville College.

The Stegemann family loves camping and hiking and Philip is an avid golfer. He is a board member at the Crag Burn Country Club. He was named most valuable player on his high school football team and was voted best senior athlete.

Today, eighty percent of his practice involves his specialty— shoulders. Patients come to him from all over the eight county region . As a result he performs many rotator cuff surgeries, arthroscopies and is a leader in total shoulder replacement in New York state. Another reason we can be proud of our wealth of medical talent here in Western New York.

Joseph H. Radder, a regular contributor to Living Prime Time, is author of a new book, Young Jesus, the Missing Years. More information is available from the publisher at 1-888-280-7715 or


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