Return to Surgical Departments

Hand Surgery & Peripheral Nerve Surgery

Departmental Profile

The RNSH Department of Hand Surgery and Peripheral Nerve Surgery is a tertiary referral centre in NSW for injuries to and diseases of the hand, as well as nerve injuries affecting the upper limb. The Department provides care for both emergency and elective hand and upper limb conditions, with a 24-hour on-call service staffed at Consultant and Fellow/Registrar level.

The Department consists of six Hand Surgery consultants (of orthopaedic, plastic and general surgical backgrounds, with further training specifically in hand surgery), three Hand Surgery Fellows, two Orthopaedic Surgery Registrars, one Plastic Surgery Registrar and a Resident Medical Officer, along with a Research Officer and Department Secretary. Hand Therapists, Plaster Physiotherapists and nursing staff work in conjunction with the Department of Hand Surgery to provide a full range of services to patients.

Staff Members

Head of Department Dr Richard Lawson
Surgical Academic Lead Dr David Stewart
Royal Australian College of Surgeons Supervisor Dr Richard Lawson
Specialists Dr Anthony Beard

Dr Claudia Gschwind

Dr Mark Hile

Dr Richard Lawson

Dr James Ledgard

Dr David Stewart

Dr Brahman Sivakumar [Google Scholar]

Prof Michael Tonkin (Honorary)

Research Officer Ms Belinda Smith
Department Secretary Ms Sally Patman

Research Themes

Hand Surgery is defined as the management of afflictions of the hand and wrist, management of upper limb conditions that affect hand function and microsurgical reconstruction of the hand and upper limb. Hand surgery deals with the skin and its contents, all of which are based on the skeleton of the hand and upper limb; the joints which allow positioning and function of the hand; the tendons and their muscles which control joint motion; the nerves which provide the messages for muscle control and activity, supply sensation to the skin and instruct the position and integrity of joint behaviour; and the vessels which provide life for all tissues, bone and soft tissue.

The Department of Hand Surgery and Peripheral Nerve Surgery is involved in numerous research projects within Royal North Shore Hospital and North Shore Private Hospital. Research projects are run in collaboration with:

  • The Children’s Hospital at Westmead;
  • Royal North Shore Hospital’s Department of Orthopaedics, Tetraplegia unit, multi-disciplinary Spasticity Clinic, and the Department of Physiotherapy;
  • The Kolling Institute’s Maxwell Murray Biomechanics Research Laboratory and Sutton Laboratories;
  • The University of Sydney;
  • International hospitals and universities (e.g. ERASMUS Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands; Loma Linda University, California, USA)
  • Pharmaceutical companies and external groups with a hand surgery interest.

Research conducted within the department includes surgical outcome reviews, surgical technique developments (animal models), multi-centre international trials and publishing of case reports. The department receives 6-8 Australian and international fellows each year and each actively pursues a research project during their term. Hand surgery registrars from the Australian Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery training schemes are required to undertake research and medical students are encouraged to assist. Master of Surgery and Master of Philosophy students may also undertake projects in the field of hand surgery. Research findings are published in Hand Surgery journals and presented at national and international meetings.

The number of worthwhile studies that can be conducted is limited only by imagination and by resources and facilities. From these studies comes better understanding and better methods of management, leading to better outcomes of care.


Related Links

Contact Person

Ms Belinda Smith, Research Officer