June 13, 2022

Meet David Brogran, MD, MSc

Hand and Microsurgery

Dr. Brogan specializes in treating all injuries and conditions of the hand and upper extremity, including fractures, arthritis of the wrist, elbow and hand. He has special expertise in treating nerve injuries, including peripheral nerve injuries, compression neuropathies (carpal tunnel, peroneal nerve injury, brachial plexus injury), complex microsurgical reconstruction, and upper extremity trauma.

Where are you from?

San Antonio, Texas. (Go Spurs!) It’s known for friendly people, fantastic culture and delicious food. 

What made you choose microsurgery as a specialty?

I was initially interested in neurosurgery but soon realized orthopedics was more enjoyable. I still retained a fascination for the nervous system, so the chance to do microsurgery and complex nerve surgery was a perfect fit for my skills and interests. I like that hand surgeons get to operate on people of all ages, and sometimes all over the body. The complexity, intricacy and beauty of the anatomy is what maintains my interest in it.

What brought you to Washington University Orthopedics?

I’ve been here for five years, I was recruited by our hand division for my interest in microsurgery. I was happy in my previous position, but the chance to work with world leaders in the field was too good of an opportunity to pass up. 

What aspect of your practice do you find most interesting or rewarding?

I find limb salvage and brachial plexus parts of my practice to be the most rewarding. These are usually quite disabling injuries and the ability to help someone with a devastating problem in a time of great need is truly a privilege and something that I find quite rewarding. I also get to operate and collaborate with my partners, in particular Drs. Dy and Boyer, whom I both admire for their technical skills, and value for their wisdom. 

Was there a past patient who made a lasting impact on you?

There was a young boy who had a devastating injury to his foot from a lawnmower accident. Some discussion had been had regarding possible amputation. However, working with the pediatric orthopedic group and Dr. Boyer, we were able to save his foot. Two months after surgery he was running in my office and a year after surgery I got a video from his Mom of him playing soccer – I almost cried.

Anything new on the horizon for upper extremity care?

I think the interface between myoelectric prosthetics and new techniques in nerve surgery is an interesting area which will have exciting new developments in the next few years. We are also working on techniques in our lab to better image damaged peripheral nerve, which I hope will hold great promise.

You are a physician-scientist involved in interesting research. What are you studying now?

We are working on ways to manipulate the pathways of degeneration that nerves undergo after traumatic injury, as well as looking at techniques to image nerve injury in surgery. It’s at times frustrating and exhausting, but also quite a bit of fun and hopefully will have a significant impact on patient care in the near future.

What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from? 

“Don’t get cocky” – My mom, when I was in high school, after I told her my SAT score.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Ski with my family or long distance runs. I can barely keep up with my boys on the slopes at this point, but I still enjoy just being on the mountain with them and my wife, it’s the best family time we have. Running is incredibly important to me as a way to bring balance to my life and relieve stress.

If you weren't a physician, what would you like to be doing?

Teaching high school calculus and coaching cross country. I had a phenomenal high school math teacher who inspired me to believe in myself and had a profound impact on my life, I would love the opportunity to have that same impact on other students.

Anything else you would like to share?

I feel fortunate to truly enjoy what I do and be blessed with a wonderful family, particularly my incredibly supportive wife Jen, who is by far my better half. She’s the glue that holds us together and balances all of the work, school and sports commitments. I would not be nearly as successful or nearly as happy without her.

Learn why patients choose Washington University Orthopedics for their hand and microsurgery needs. 

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