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.  STABILITY 2: ACL Reconstruction +/- Lateral Tenodesis with Patellar vs. Quad Tendon

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH)
U01AR07614401, 09/01/2021- 08-31-2022, $648,412  

This study has the general aim of identifying the optimal surgical management of ACL injury: Specific aims within this general aim are: 2) Determine if graft type quadriceps, patellar, or hamstring tendon autograft (QT, BPTB, HT, respectively) with or without a lateral extra-articular tenodesis (LET) affects the rate of ACL clinical failure 2 years after ACL reconstruction. 2) Determine if graft type (QT, BPTB or HT) with or without a LET affects patient-reported symptoms, function & quality of life, performance-based measures of function and return-to-sports 2 years after ACL reconstruction. 3) To determine if graft type (QT, BPTB or HT) with or without LET affects rates of intervention-related donor site morbidity, complications and adverse outcomes 2 years after ACL reconstruction. 4) Determine if use of a particular graft type (QT, BPTB or HT) with or without a LET is a more cost-effective approach to ACL reconstruction. To achieve these aims, an international 21-site multicenter randomized trial is being conducted that includes 1236 participants undergoing ACL reconstruction who are skeletally mature, participate in pivoting sports at high risk for graft failure. Participants are randomized to graft type (bone patellar tendon bone [BPTB] or quadriceps tendon [QT] autograft) with or without a lateral extra-articular tenodesis (LET). Outcome measures include ACL clinical failure, patient-reported outcomes, performance-based measures of function, return to pre-injury sports, adverse outcomes, intervention-related donor site morbidity and complications.

2. Timing and Rehabilitation (STaR) of Multiple Ligament Knee Injuries (MLKI)s: A Multicenter Integrated Clinical Trial

Department of Defense (USAMRAA)
W81XWH-17-2-0073, 9/30/2017 – 9/29/2021, $2,962,738 

The overall purpose of this project is to determine when it is best to do surgery (within 6 weeks of injury or 3 to 4 months after injury) and when to start rehab (immediately or 4 weeks after surgery) for the treatment of knee dislocations on how long it takes to resume pre-injury military duty, work, and sports.

3. Predicting the Outcome of Exercise Therapy for Treatment of Rotator Cuff Tears (POETT)

National Institute of Health
NIH R01AR069503-01A1, 09/01/2016 – 5/31/2021, $2,021,020