Meet Shaun Mendenhall, One of the Plastic Surgery Division’s Newest Team Members

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Shaun D. Mendenhall, MD, a hand and plastic surgeon with expertise in all aspects of reconstructive hand and upper-extremity surgery, peripheral nerve surgery, and microvascular surgery, has joined Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) as an attending surgeon with the Division of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Oral Surgery, and the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Mendenhall earned his medical degree at the University of Utah School of Medicine and completed a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. His first encounter with CHOP was while treating pediatric patients during his fellowship in orthopaedic hand and microvascular surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. In 2021, he was excited to accept a position working with children full-time at CHOP.

Dr. Mendenhall recently spent some time discussing his work and the field of hand surgery.

Q. What led you to pursue the field of hand surgery?

A. In college I became fascinated with human anatomy and was in particular drawn to the complex nature of the hand. The intricate combination of tendons, nerves, blood vessels, bone and skin, all working together as a human’s greatest tool, piqued my interest. Then, somewhat serendipitously, the first operation that I witnessed in person was the repair of a table-saw injury to the hand. From this point on, I was hooked!

Q. What drew you to CHOP?

A. My hand surgery fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania included spending a significant amount of time at CHOP and Shriner’s Hospital for Children working with world leaders in pediatric hand surgery. It was during this time that I fell in love with treating children with hand conditions. I was very impressed with the working environment at CHOP and how everyone was 100% dedicated to helping children get better. This stuck with me, and so when the opportunity came up for me to return to CHOP, I couldn’t resist. I’m extremely grateful to be part this world-class institution with incredibly talented partners and mentorship. In addition, my academic appointment at Penn provides an unparalleled opportunity for me to teach the next generation of surgeons and advance the science of reconstructive surgery.

Q. What advances are exciting you in the field of hand and upper-extremity surgery?

A. I am very interested in helping kids with devastating upper- and lower-extremity injuries return to a normal life. This can be done through a number of ways, including microsurgical limb salvage procedures, innovative nerve procedures, advanced prosthetic fitting, or hand transplantation. For example, I perform a procedure called targeted muscle reinnervation, which reroutes nerves in children who have lost limbs in order to improve prosthetic function and reduce phantom limb pain. I also participate in a multidisciplinary team that offers the latest prosthetic technology to patients who have lost digits or part of their hand and am part of the Penn hand transplant team.

I also perform surgeries that help children with partial or complete paralysis of the upper extremities, which can be due to brachial plexus birth injury, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, pediatric stroke or spinal cord injuries. These include nerve reconstructive procedures such as nerve grafts and nerve transfers for children with brachial plexus injuries and hyper-selective neurectomies to help relax tight muscles from spasticity.  These procedures represent some of the latest advanced in reconstructive surgery, and I’m happy to offer them to the patients of CHOP.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?

A. I am married and have three children. We are avid Phillies fans. Since we are from Utah, we love the outdoors including camping, hiking, skiing, snowboarding and sailing. I am also a drummer and have played in multiple rock bands over the years. 

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