Katherine Coyner

Katherine Coyner, MD
Assistant Professor
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Katherine Coyner, is an assistant professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Coyner completed a fellowship in sports medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. While at Duke she was a team physician for the Duke University Men’s & Women’s basketball teams, Football team, women’s soccer, and the North Carolina Central University football team. She graduated from Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine in Rootstown, Ohio and completed a residency in orthopaedic surgery at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.

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. 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 board-certified orthopaedic surgeon. She is a member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the American Orthopaedic Association’s Emerging Leaders Program. Dr. Coyner is 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.

In 1970, only eight percent of doctors were women. Today, it’s 30 percent. Despite this surge, there are still stereotypes about which fields of medicine women should enter and how much they should work if they have families. In the United States, fewer than 5 percent of orthopaedic surgeons are women. Dr. Coyner is one of them. And in the Dallas metropolitan area, she’s one of only a few female sports medicine physicians. It isn’t unusual to see a female surgeon like Dr. Coyner, but what is unusual is her specialty. “Orthopedics has traditionally been an old boy’s club,” she said. “It is a little more physical in nature,” Dr. Coyner explained. “We use hammers, saws, and drills.”

Dr. Coyner currently mentors female residents and is heavily involved in The Perry Initiative, a young women’s mentoring program that helps expose them to the field of orthopedics. “She cares a lot about teaching residents,” according to Jessica Wingfield, Orthopedic Surgical Resident, UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Early exposure and then continuing mentoring to show them that there are role models out there,” Dr. Coyner explained.

In 2010, Dr. Coyner was selected to Feagin Leadership Program which was created to honor John A. Feagin, Jr., MD., Duke University Emeritus Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery.