Dr. Carolyn Hettrich

Shoulder specialist, researcher joins UK Sports Medicine team

UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine welcomed shoulder specialist Dr. Carolyn Hettrich to the team earlier this summer. Hettrich will see patients, take care of UK athletes and conduct research.

Originally from Portland, Ore., Hettrich has studied and worked across the country. She completed her undergraduate studies in Los Angeles at Pomona College and went to medical school at the University of Washington. After graduating medical school, Hettrich completed a residency at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and a fellowship at Vanderbilt University. She has spent the past six years working in Iowa.

As a member of the team at UK Sports Medicine, Hettrich said she is looking forward to providing care for patients with shoulder disorders and conducting leading-edge research studies.

In fact, one of the reasons Hettrich decided to join UK HealthCare is because of UK’s emphasis on research.

“I’ll have the opportunity to do the research I’m interested in,” she said.

Hettrich’s research interests focus on three areas: clinical outcomes after shoulder surgery, computer modeling for shoulder replacement, and tendon and bone healing. Hettrich is the principal investigator on the largest prospective study in the world for shoulder instability surgery. The study has 950 patients currently enrolled and is operating at 12 sites nationwide.

Her research expertise meshes well with work already being done at UK Sports Medicine, particularly the work of Dr. Christian Lattermann. Hettrich and Lattermann are both part of the Multicenter Orthopaedic Outcomes Network (MOON) and share a mentor.

“We are very proud Dr. Hettrich joined UK Sports Medicine,” Lattermann said. “She brings an extraordinary expertise in shoulder-related, patient-centered translational research, which accelerates our efforts at UK to become a national leader in patient-related outcomes research.” Additionally, she is an outstanding shoulder surgeon, Lattermann said.

When she’s not conducting research, treating patients or working as a team physician for the UK football team, Hettrich is looking forward to continuing her advocacy work on behalf of her patients. Her master’s degree in public health focused on health policy gives her insight into how she can advocate for her patients and research funding.

Each year, on Research Capitol Hill Days, Hettrich takes patients to meet with congressional leaders in Washington D.C. to show the direct impact of research funding. Hettrich is especially interested in musculoskeletal research because musculoskeletal conditions affect half of the adult population in the U.S., with expenditures related to these conditions accounting for nearly 6 percent of the gross domestic product.


Next steps: