Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Volker Musahl, MD

  • Professor
  • Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Chief, Division of Sports Medicine
  • Medical Director, UPMC Rooney Sports Complex
  • Program Director, Sports Medicine Fellowship Program

Education & Training

  • MD, Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  • Residency: University of Pittsburgh Medical School, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Fellowship: Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY

Representative Publications

1. Araki D, Miller M, Fujimaki Y, Hoshino Y, Musahl V, Debski R. Effect of Tear Location on Propagation of Isolated Supraspinatus Tendon Tears During Increasing Levels of Cyclic Loading. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2015 Feb 18; 97 (4): 273-278.

2. Van der Watt L, Khan M, Rothrauff BB, Ayeni OR, Musahl V, Getgood A, Peterson D. The Structure and Function of the Anterolateral Ligament of the Knee: A Systematic Review. Arthroscopy 2015 Mar;31(3):569-82.e3. 

3. Kowalczuk M, Leblanc MC, Rothrauff BB, Debski RE, Musahl V, Simunovic N, Ayeni OR. Posterior Tibial Translation Resulting from the Posterior Drawer Maneuver in Cadaveric Knee Specimens: A Systematic Review. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2015 Oct;23(10):2974-82.

4. Bell KM, Arilla FV, Rahnemai-Azar AA, Fu FH, Musahl V, Debski RE. Novel Techniquefor Evaluation of Knee Function Continuously Through the Range of Flexion. J Biomech. 2015 Oct 15;48(13):3737-40. 

5. Miller RM, Popchak A, Vyas D, Tashman S, Irrgang J, Musahl V, Debski, R. Effects of Exercise Therapy for the Treatment of Symptomatic Full-Thickness Supraspinatus Tears on In Vivo Glenohumeral Kinematics. Arthroscopy J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2015 Nov 24. pii:S1058-2746(15)00485-1.

6. Ohashi B, Hofbauer M, Irrgang JJ, Debski RE, Samuelsson K, Hoshino Y, Zaffagnini S, Fu FH, Musahl V. The Pivot Shift Test: Development of an Image Based Application to Quantify a Standardized Pivot Shift Maneuver. AAOS Scientific Exhibit SE 78. AAOS Annual Meeting, March 11-15, 2014, New Orleans, LA.

7. Rahnemai-Azar AA, Guenther D, Irarrazaval S, Arilla F, Bell K, Fu F, Irrgang J, Debski R, Musahl V. The Role of Anterolateral Capsule on Stability of the Knee: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Scientific Exhibit: AAOS 2016 Annual Meeting, Orlando FL, March 2-4, 2016.

Pubmed link 

Research Interests

Dr. Musahl’s research interests include knee and shoulder biomechanics. Dr. Musahl and Richard Debski, PhD, Associate Professor of Bioengineering and Orthopaedic Surgery, work together in the Orthopaedic Robotics Labortory (ORL) in Pittsburgh, and are examining older individuals with rotator cuff tears. They are examining the size and location of the tear with the goal of helping surgeons to determine what forms and combinations of treatment — injections, physical therapy, or surgery — are most effective. They also are building computational models that forecast various scenarios by varying the properties of thetear and surrounding tissue. Another research project focused on the impact of exercise therapy on torn rotator cuffs. Patients underwent 12 weeks of exercise therapy: six weeks with a physical therapist, and six weeks of a home-based program that focused on restoring range of motion and strengthening the rotator cuff and scapular muscles. Patients had x-rays taken before and after physical therapy to assess improvements in shoulder movement. The results of this study will be presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society 2015 Annual Meeting.The results of the research conducted in the ORL are moving the needle on the availability of evidence-based decision-making tools for surgeons regarding the treatment of rotator cuff tears. Future ORL research will focus on tear chronicity to determine how the age of a tear affects how it propagates and impacts surrounding tissue.


Research Grants

Current Grant Support

1. Clinical Application of Quantitative Assessment of Pivot Shift – A Multicenter Study Performance Period: 2015-2019
Role: PI     
Level of Funding:  $250,272
Supporting Agency:  Society and Foundation

2. Software Application to Quantify the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Function
Performance Period: 1/1/2015 – 12/31/2015
Role: Clinical PI        
Level of Funding: $100,000
The Coulter funding will facilitate upgrades to software and allow an addition of 5-10 centers to the existing multicenter trial, to further validate PIVOT adoption and possibility of standardization throughout the field of Orthopedics.
Supporting Agency: Coulter Foundation grant for PIVOT

3. Anterolateral Capsule Injuries and Their Influence on Rotational Instability of the Knee Joint Performance
Period: 7/1/2015-6/30/2016
Role: Collaborator   
Level of Funding: $5,000
Supporting Agency: Pittsburgh Foundation

4. Grant: #AD2015-1765-23
Computational Prediction of Rotator Cuff TearPerformance
Period: 7/1/2015 – 6/30/2016
Role: PI     
Level of Funding: $5,000
This study will improve knowledge of the biomechanics of rotator cuff tear propagationand assist in the development of a “rotator cuff tear index” to improve treatment decisions for the choice of surgical or non-operative treatments of individual patients.Additionally, it will provide valuable information on which regions of the tendon are underexcessive stress or very low stress, providing information to surgeons on which regionsof the tendon may be at risk for greater degeneration and increased chance of repair failure.

5. The Albert B. Ferguson, Jr, MD Orthopaedic Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation Enhancement of Rotator Cuff Repair
Performance Period:  7/1/15 – 6/30/16  
Time Commitment:  5% (0.6 calendar),
Role:  Co-Investigator    
Level of Funding: $50,000
We hypothesize: (1) MSC-seeded nanofibrous scaffold augmentation of the surgical repair will improve material properties of the healing rotator cuff repair; (2) the MSC-seeded hydrogel will restore the fibrocartilage of normal bone-tendon interface; (3) the combined use of nanofibrousscaffold and hydrogel will perform synergistically to regenerate the rotator cuff structureand function.
Supporting Agency:  University of Pittsburgh Health Plan/University of Pittsburgh Physicians UPP/UPMC Academic Foundation

6. Timing of Surgery and Rehabilitation to Optimize Outcome for Patients with Multiple Ligament Knee Injuries: A Multicenter Clinical Trial.
Performance Period: 09/2015 – 09/2016
Role: Co-Investigator
Level of Funding $300,000.
Supporting Agency: Department of the Navy, Department of Defense (DoD) office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).