Katherine Coyner, M.D.
In the United States, fewer than 5 percent of orthopaedic surgeons are women. Katherine Coyner, M.D., is one of them. And here in the Dallas area, she’s one of only a few female sports medicine physicians.
Our sports medicine team offers comprehensive care. When the athletes have any issue, whether it’s orthopaedic or someone needs another type of medical or surgical care, we can take care of them at UT Southwestern.”
As a lifelong athlete herself, Dr. Coyner has no trouble relating to injured players. She was co-captain of her college basketball team at the University of Massachusetts, where she set scoring and assist records. At Duke University, she was a team physician for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, the football team, and the women’s soccer team. It was the pressure and team spirit of sports that prepared her to be a great surgeon, she says, and she loves getting athletes back onto the field. “It’s instant gratification,” she says, “to experience them doing well and returning to their level of play.”
One of the most common injuries Dr. Coyner sees is ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears. ACL injuries are nearly eight times more common in female athletes than in their male counterparts. Key reasons include the female anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics. Women are more quadriceps-dominant, so that's already providing an anterior shear force, and that's what the ACL resists doing. Men are more hamstring-dominant. This difference also affects how women jump and land. Men usually land more with bent knees, which act as shock absorbers, while women land more straight up and in a knock-kneed position, which puts the ACL at risk.
Fortunately, says Dr. Coyner, athletes can learn safer ways to exercise and jump that reduce their risk of ACL injury.
For patients who need reconstructive ACL surgery, she uses a minimally invasive approach and places the ACL reconstruction in the anatomic location. This technique cuts down on post-operative pain and restores the knee’s function better than older methods.
Dr. Coyner is a member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the
American Orthopaedic Association’s Emerging Leaders Program, and she’s one of three sports-medicine orthopaedic surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Sports Medicine, Knee, and Shoulder Program. The group’s team approach and its location at UTSW mean great care for injured athletes, including those with medical problems like sickle-cell disease or heart disease.