Dr. Stephen Snyder began practice with the Southern California Orthopedic Institute (SCOI) in 1981 as one of the five founding partners. He became interested in shoulder arthroscopy in 1982.
Since shoulder arthroscopy was an unfamiliar surgical procedure at the time, there was very little information available to guide an interested surgeon wishing to learn this new surgical discipline. To enable the performance of arthroscopic repairs of ruptured rotator cuff and biceps tendons, as well as the reattachment of torn ligaments, Dr. Snyder partnered with several newly formed surgical equipment companies to develop a complete catalog of novel miniature tools including suture anchors, stitching tools, tissue handling devices, arm support brackets, cannulas as well as a full line of shoulder braces and splints.
These “inventions” along with many others are in use today, many in the second and third iterations, and have catalyzed the development of numerous additional tools and techniques that have enhanced surgical outcomes.
With these newly created tools available it now was possible to conceive, practice, and perfect new surgical procedures. Not only was Dr. Snyder instrumental in innovating the techniques for the now-standard operations such as rotator cuff repairs, shoulder instability corrections, and calcium and bone spur removal but when he found it necessary to devise a method to replace the massive non-repairable rotator cuff tendon the eventual solution was the GraftJacket Allograft soft tissue patch. With this operation performed arthroscopically in the outpatient surgery, a tissue patch is sutured to the edges of the torn rotator cuff defect to close it and allow the body to actually regenerate a new cuff tendon.
Early in his career, Dr. Snyder recognized the need to have better methods to train surgeons in the complex skills needed to perform shoulder arthroscopy. He determined that it would be useful to develop a realistic shoulder model with which students could practice and perfect the new techniques without potentially injuring the patients or the need for cadavers. The product was completed in 1991 and was dubbed “Alex the Shoulder Professor” a realistic life-sized surgical model that is now used for surgeon training worldwide. To enhance the product and make it available to every surgeon, a kit including an arthroscope, a light source, a coupler, and an Internet video camera was developed thus enabling the use of a laptop computer in place of an expensive surgical set-up.
Dr. Snyder joined the Arthroscopy Association of North America in 1985 and was chosen to be the first coordinator of the shoulder arthroscopy section. He later served as the Chairman of the Education Committee and the Treasurer of the Board of Directors. He is an active member of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Association, The 20th Century Orthopaedic Organization, The Western Orthopedic Association The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and the Arthroscopy Association of North America.
Dr. Snyder is passionate about teaching and has traveled throughout the world as an invited lecturer to help others learn the art of shoulder arthroscopy. He founded the SCOI CLASroom (Center for Learning Arthroscopic Skills) designed as a high-tech learning center for shoulder arthroscopy techniques using the Alex models and the latest “Virtual Reality” simulators. The CLASroom is located in the SCOI Van Nuys office and is frequented by student doctors from around the world without charge to facilitate their surgical training. In addition, he is a senior member of the teaching faculty of the SCOI Sports Medicine Fellowship.
Dr. Snyder’s most notable contribution to shoulder arthroscopy education has been his sole authorship of the first two additions to his textbooks, “SCOI Shoulder Arthroscopy”. The third edition, which is being co-authored by five of the SCOI shoulder partners, is being published in 2014.
Outside of the office, Dr. Snyder enjoys fly-fishing, biking, exercising, traveling, video editing, hiking, reading, and his new hobby is learning to fly remote control airplanes.