May 2004

Dr. Matthew Phillips
Pace Setter in Orthopaedic Surgery

by Joseph H. RADDER

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Dr. Matthew Phillips was one of the first orthopaedic surgeons in the country to perform computer-assisted knee replacement. Indeed he teaches this advanced technique to orthopaedic surgeons from such prestigious hospitals as the Cleveland Clinic. He finds it interesting when he hears of Buffalo area patients going to Cleveland for orthopaedic surgery, when the most advanced techniques are available right here. "Western New York has been a leader in a lot of areas of medicine," he says, citing Roswell Park and the Hauptman-Woodward Institute as examples.

And he's excited about what he calls "the new era of hospital administration in Buffalo. Finally," he says, "everybody's on the same page."

Dr. Phillips' University Orthopaedics group, which he joined seven years ago, enjoys a unique position of leadership. "There's no reason for anyone to have to leave Western New York for any kind of orthopaedic surgery," he says.

He believes surgeons and assisting staff should take their time and do things right, and he urges those he teaches and those who work with him to treat every patient as if he or she were a friend.

He's not only positive about medicine locally but is optimistic about health care nationally as well. "If you look around the world," he says, "the United States is near the top, and often at the top according to almost any rating system." Sometimes he is surprised to hear people lamenting the fact that the U.S. is rated only fifth in a certain area of health care by a particular rating system. "After all," Phillips says, "out of 250 nations, coming in fifth isn't that bad."

Another common complaint in the U.S., of course, is affordability. He answers that by comparing our situation to those in the United Kingdom and Canada. "Yes, it's more affordable there, but if you need a hip replacement in the UK, you wait from twelve to fifteen months, in Canada you wait ten months. We need to find better ways," he believes, "to provide quality and timely health care at a reasonable cost."

Matthew Phillips was born in Buffalo on December 2, 1965. His father, James Phillips, M.D., is still practicing at age 82. His mother, Marcella Beaty Phillips was a registered nurse, who retired from that profession to raise a family of eight, and then returned to a nursing career after her children were grown. She is now a nurse in the gastro-intestinal laboratory at Buffalo General Hospital.

Phillips attended Nardin Acacademy and St. Mark's School, and then went to Canisius High School, and to St. Lawrence University, where he graduated cum laude. He also earned honors at UB Medical School, where he worked as an anatomy teaching assistant, and also worked at Roswell Park's research lab.

Indeed, work has always been part of Matthew Phillips' life, first as a paper boy, then at a gas station and Darien Lake. He was a landscape worker during both his high school and college years. He even worked as a bartender during his college days.

Matthew's oldest sister, Gretchen Aylward, is an immigration attorney in Buffalo. His sister, Katie Kenney, is a full-time housewife and mother and very active in the Buffalo Junior League. Margaret is the Assistant Vice President of Development at UB. Marcella is involved in a great deal of volunteer work in Buffalo. His sister, Mary, lives in Sarasota, Florida, where she is in office management. Matthew's older brother, James, is a musician and artist, and his younger brother, Michael, is a bar manager in Sarasota, Florida.

Matthew Phillips and Aretee ("Toula") Boubaris were married in Buffalo in 1991 and they have four children, three boys and a girl. James is age ten and a half, Michael is nine, Matthew Jr. is seven and Markella is five.

Phillips became interested in orthopaedics in college. "My college room-mate's father was an orthopaedic surgeon, and through him, I became interested in orthopaedics." His interest in sports, particularly as a hockey player, also contributed to his interest in sports medicine.

He served his internship at several local hospitals, and then spent four years as an orthopaedic resident, followed by a one-year fellowship in joint- replacement at Buffalo General Hospital. Three years ago, he and several of his University Orthopaedics partners, opened a satellite office on Youngs Road in Amherst. This self-contained facility not only provides a venue for its surgeons to see patients, but includes a physical therapy facility as well.

Getting back to his enthusiasm for computer-assisted knee replacement, pioneered here in Western NY by his senior partner, Dr. Kenneth Krackow, Phillips said, "In simple terms, it's basically using the computer as a guide to accurately place the jigs and check the cuts. We use it fairly routinely now. Its advantages are not so much in the short term, but in the long term. When a knee replacement is more accurately aligned, it's more likely to do better over time."

One wouldn't expect a surgeon as busy as Dr. Phillips to have much time for leisure activity, but he feels very strongly that family should come first, career second. "That isn't always possible," he allowed, "but most of the time I am able to put family first, work second." As an example of this, he is involved in hockey with his three boys as coach and player.

The more we talk to people like Dr. Matthew Phillips, the more we understand why Buffalo is considered nationally to be ahead of the curve in medical progress.

Joseph H. Radder, a frequent contributor to Living Prime Time, is author of a new book, “Young Jesus, the Missing Years”. For more information, phone 1-888-280-7715 or visit


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