COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update: Testing and Information | Vaccine Updates | Visitor Guidelines

Susan Schmitt was looking forward to a sunlit, invigorating sailboat race with co-workers on Lake Michigan in August 2019. But Mother Nature had other plans: rain, choppy seas, 6-foot waves, 11-knot winds.

The treacherous conditions made the deck slippery, and Susan slid during a tacking maneuver slamming her left hand into the hull.

“I knew I hit it hard,” Susan said. “I had to keep my hand in a fist because I could feel pain shoot through it when I opened it. By the time we docked, my hand was probably twice its normal size.”

After icing it, Susan went to Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Drexel Town Square Health Center in Oak Creek, where she’s a clinical care assistant. A quick X-ray told the story.

“There was a break clear across the bone,” she said.

Aaron Morgan, MD, plastic and reconstructive surgeon and MCW faculty member, assessed her injury. He is part of a group of Froedtert & MCW surgeons who specialize in hand- and nerve-related surgery.

“Susan had a fracture of the fifth metacarpal, below the pinkie finger,” he said. “It was an oblique (slanted) fracture, along the length of the bone. This type of fracture is generally extremely unstable and almost always requires surgery to prevent long-term issues.”

Dr. Morgan performed surgery on Susan’s hand at Drexel Town Square Health Center Ambulatory Surgery Center.

“We inserted three stainless steel screws,” Dr. Morgan said. “They stay in forever and produce a more rigid, strong repair than other approaches. This enables people to tolerate doing activities earlier.”

He closed the incision with plastic surgery finesse: absorbable sutures underneath and skin glue on top to minimize scarring. Following surgery on a Friday, Susan returned to work the next Tuesday wearing a protective brace.

“Four months later, I never even thought I had broken my hand,” she said. “It was the easiest surgery and recovery I’ve had.”

Add new comment