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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
    Explained things in a way that was easy to understand
    322 Ratings
    Did the doctor pay attention to your concerns
    320 Ratings
    Gave easy to understand instructions about taking care of health problems or concerns
    305 Ratings
    Knew the important information about your medical history
    318 Ratings
    The provider showed respect for what you had to say
    318 Ratings
    The provider spent enough time with me
    319 Ratings
    Decorative Caduceus

    Dexamethasone in Total Knee Arthroplasty

    48 hours of cumulative opioid consumption measured in oral morphine equivalents


    Decorative Caduceus

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