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Thomas Parker Vail


Chair of Orthopedic Surgery
Leader in innovative hip and knee care

Dr. Thomas Parker Vail is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joint replacement and other surgical treatments for hip and knee conditions. He is the UCSF James L. Young endowed professor and serves as chair of the orthopedic surgery department. Under his leadership, the department has become an international leader in patient care, research, education and global health.

Vail's research focuses on innovation in musculoskeletal medicine and training. He has special interests in performance and outcomes of surgical procedures and devices, delivery of care in hip and knee surgery, and cartilage injury and repair. He has particular expertise in tissue-sparing hip procedures to treat arthritis and joint degeneration, knee ligament balancing, effective pain management and rapid recovery strategies for patients receiving total joint replacements. He holds multiple patents for orthopedic devices and has served as an industry consultant, participated on scientific advisory boards and helped to start musculoskeletal device companies. While his highest priority has been translating laboratory discoveries into advanced treatments for his patients, he is proud of his legacy in leadership development, as reflected in colleagues, students and trainees with whom he has shared his time and experience.

Vail earned his medical degree at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. He completed a residency in orthopedic surgery and a fellowship in adult reconstructive surgery at Duke University.

Vail has published extensively on hip and knee surgery, surgical training and innovation, and health economics and patient care. He has received many academic honors as well as recognition for his patient care. He is past president of the Knee Society, American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, and Eastern Orthopaedic Association, and past vice president of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. At UCSF, he has held multiple leadership positions, including medical director of the UCSF Orthopaedic Institute, which he conceptualized and helped build. He has served as co-chair of the UCSF Health Finance Committee, chair of the Funds Flow Committee and a member of the Executive Council.

  • Education

    Loyola University School of Medicine, 1985

  • Residencies

    Duke University, Orthopaedic Surgery, 1991

  • Fellowships

    Duke University, Adult Reconstructive Surgery, 1992

  • Board Certifications

    Orthopaedic Surgery, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

  • Academic Title


  • Languages


New developments in joint replacement have a huge impact on human life and health, and this inspires me.

Where I see patients (1)

    My reviews


    Overall Experience
    322 Ratings
    About our process
    Mar 25, 2022
    Dr Vail and his team are excellent in all aspects of patient care and caring! What a wonderful experience this has been from my first visit through surgery and recovery. I have total confidence in and respect for this team.
    Mar 24, 2022
    This is the first time I've met Dr. Vail. I really like him! So happy to be able to get an appointment with him. Thank you.
    Feb 18, 2022
    Very positive experience
    Feb 12, 2022
    This provider Dr T Vail is an excellent Doctor and very well informed great expertise wealth of knowledge and very easy to understand and he really listens to your comments!
    Jan 30, 2022
    My experience of UCSF hospital was amazing.
    Dec 17, 2021
    Dr. Vail is an exceptional person & great surgeon.
    Dec 17, 2021
    I trust and respect Dr Vail and staff.
    Dec 08, 2021
    Nov 10, 2021
    Grateful Dr. Vail was my doctor for both my knee replacements.
    Nov 10, 2021
    Dr Vail is a spectacular doctor/surgeon!! Excellent bedside manner. Calm knowledgeable and caring...what else can one ask for. We have already referred him to 3 other friends.
    Nov 05, 2021
    Dr. Vail takes the time to listen and answer any questions. He has given me the opportunity to provide input into my care. I highly recommend him.
    Oct 27, 2021
    Dr Vail was immaculate on timing very courteous did not bring a cell phone or smart watch. He gave 100 percent attention to all my questions and was in no hurry at all. Thanks Dr Vail for showing me so much respect
    Sep 18, 2021
    Dr. Vail did an excellent job on the surgery but my follow up visit 8 weeks later was the first time I had spoken to him post surgery. I felt that he was somewhat rushed to get on to his next appointment. I spent approximately 5 minutes talking to Dr. Vail. More than likely this was not his fault but was because he was so far behind time-wise. He was 35 minutes late for the appointment. It would have been nice if I didn't feel so rushed since I won't be seeing him for another year.
    Aug 18, 2021
    Jun 18, 2021
    provider instilled confidence in going for surgery and for my fear to be lot less in his communication and providing information.
    Jun 02, 2021
    A referral to a another physician for the spinal problem is forthcoming
    Mar 14, 2021
    Dr. Vail and his medical assistant were very warm and friendly. Very approachable. I felt confident to have future medical consults and treatment with him and his office.
    Mar 13, 2021
    Dr. Vail is outstanding with respect to assessing my situation explaining it to me and being sensitive to my needs. He is very accommodating and such a pleasure with whom to work.
    Jan 31, 2021
    I was very appreciative of Dr Vail's patience with me.
    Dec 11, 2020
    Outstanding service by the provider
    Dec 11, 2020
    Great team I continue to be grateful to Dr. Vail and the great UCSF team in the followup to my total hip surgery in 2016.
    Dec 11, 2020
    The ability to contact a nurse or Dr. Vail in this unit was very good. An excellent software program was provided and questions were always answered through the software program or by telephone. I would say that information on the healing process over several months after surgery was a little lacking and only provided when I asked questions and sometimes I didn't know precisely what questions to ask. I'm trying to say that I have not known what to expect regarding things like aches and pains and how the healing process progresses -- the big picture.
    Dec 11, 2020
    we did not discuss medication needed after surgery
    Dec 11, 2020
    left without follow up appointment information
    Nov 22, 2020
    Dr Vail's care and bedside manner is second to none!! Fabulous team surrounding him as well!!
    Nov 18, 2020
    i have recommended Dr Vail to many friends and we are all delighted to have such a master surgeon on our side..with his parting words "have a good time"
    Oct 21, 2020
    Blessed to have such great medical care.
    Aug 28, 2020
    An excellent visit. Professional and extended every courtesy. UCSF and staff are a fantastic community asset.
    Aug 14, 2020
    Dr Vail is an outstanding surgeon and has a wonderful bedside manner.
    Aug 13, 2020
    my computer camera did not allow me to be on video though it had worked perfectly the night before when i did the pre-test
    Jul 08, 2020
    I didn't fwwl rushed!
    Jul 01, 2020
    Dr. Vail is a great doctor!
    Jun 24, 2020
    Dr. Vail is an amazing surgeon. He is talented confident kind and dedicated. I am forever grateful for his expertise. My primary hip replacement went wonderful. I wouldn't trust anyone else. I have OI type 1 and after carrying our daughters needed a hip replacement. Many doctors told me no one would help me because I was so high risk. at the time of the surgery I was only [age redacted] . Dr. Vail and his team changed my life. I can run and play with my daughters and live a pain free life again. Thank you so so much Dr. Vail.
    Jun 17, 2020
    Dr Vail is amazing thorough courteous and knowledgeable
    Decorative Caduceus

    Antibiotic Prophylaxis in Patients Undergoing Elective TKA- Multi-center Trial