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Thomas F. Higgins, MD

Thomas F. Higgins, MD

Fractures and Trauma, Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedic Trauma

Dr. Thomas Higgins holds the Richard L. Stimson Presidential Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery and is a Professor and Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery at the University of Utah. His medical degree was completed at Brown University School of Medicine. His orthopaedic training was at Yale University, with a post-graduate fellowship in orthopaedic trauma at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He has been on the faculty at University of Utah since 2000.

Clinical Information

Dr. Higgins’ clinical expertise is in the treatment of complex intra-articular injuries, pelvic and acetabular trauma, and musculoskeletal care in the setting of polytrauma. His elective practice focuses on the deformity correction, malunions, and nonunions.

The author of over eighty peer-reviewed publications and multiple book chapters, Dr. Higgins main area of research interest clinically has been on plateau fractures. He has been primary investigator or co-investigator on four OTA grants, two AO grants, and an OREF grant. His most recent research has focused on the genetics of trauma, the use of opiate analgesics in the trauma setting, and the role of inflammatory mediators in the formation of post-traumatic osteoarthritis. He was recently awarded a $2.5 million dollar DOD grant for a prospective randomized clinical trial on the role of NSAIDs in fracture healing.

In the educational sphere, Dr. Higgins is recognized nationally for his research and presentations of tibial plateau fractures. He has been active with orthopaedic education with AO North America, chairing three courses, and teaching at over thirty. Previously a member of the OTA Education Committee, he has also chaired multiple resident courses for the OTA. He has received the annual teaching award three times at the University of Utah.

He has previously served on the Orthopaedic Trauma Association Board of Directors, and currently serves as OTA Secretary on the BOD. Dr. Higgins was the OTA Annual Program Chair in 2013 and 2014. In 2009, Dr. Higgins served as the OTA/AAOS Landstuhl Visiting Scholar, and has been visiting professor at multiple universities. In 2015 he and his family spent four months serving at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya, and he served as a visiting surgeon with Health Volunteers Overseas at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu, Bhutan for the month of January 2020. He maintains an interest in continuing to serve in global medicine.

When he is not working, he enjoys skiing, biking, and traveling with his wife and kids.


Board Certification and Academic Information

Academic Departments Orthopaedics - Professor
Board Certification American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

Academic Information

Research Interests

  • Tibial Plateau Fractures
  • Articular Fractures
  • Cartilage, Articular
  • Fracture Healing
  • Fracture Nonunion
  • Malunion Surgery
  • Osteotomy
  • Difficult Fractures
  • Inflammatory Cytokine Response to Fracture
  • Prescription Opiate Use

Education History

  • Fellowship R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
    Orthopedic Surgery
  • Chief Resident Yale New Haven Hospital
    Orthopedic Surgery
    Chief Resident
  • Residency Yale New Haven Hospital
    Orthopedic Surgery
  • Internship Yale New Haven Hospital
    General Surgery
  • Professional Medical Brown University School of Medicine
  • Graduate Training Bryn Mawr College, Post-Baccalaureate Sciences Program
    Postbaccalaureate Studies
  • Undergraduate Williams College
    Political Science, Concentration in International Relations

Selected Publications - Journal Articles

Journal Article

  1. Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium METRC, OToole RV, Joshi M, Carlini AR, Murray CK, Allen LE, Huang Y, Scharfstein DO, OHara NN, Gary JL, Bosse MJ, Castillo RC, Bishop JA, Weaver MJ, Firoozabadi R, Hsu JR, Karunakar MA, Seymour RB, Sims SH, Churchill C, Brennan ML, Gonzales G, Reilly RM, Zura RD, Howes CR, Mir HR, Wagstrom EA, Westberg J, Gaski GE, Kempton LB, Natoli RM, Sorkin AT, Virkus WW, Hill LC, Hymes RA, Holzman M, Malekzadeh AS, Schulman JE, Ramsey L, Cuff JAN, Haaser S, Osgood GM, Shafiq B, Laljani V, Lee OC, Krause PC, Rowe CJ, Hilliard CL, Morandi MM, Mullins A, Achor TS, Choo AM, Munz JW, Boutte SJ, Vallier HA, Breslin MA, Frisch HM, Kaufman AM, Large TM, LeCroy CM, Riggsbee C, Smith CS, Crickard CV, Phieffer LS, Sheridan E, Jones CB, Sietsema DL, Reid JS, Ringenbach K, Hayda R, Evans AR, Crisco MJ, Rivera JC, Osborn PM, Kimmel J, Stawicki SP, Nwachuku CO, Wojda TR, Rehman S, Donnelly JM, Caroom C, Jenkins MD, Boulton CL, Costales TG, LeBrun CT, Manson TT, Mascarenhas DC, Nascone JW, Pollak AN, Sciadini MF, Slobogean GP, Berger PZ, Connelly DW, Degani Y, Howe AL, Marinos DP, Montalvo RN, Reahl GB, Schoonover CD, Schroder LK, Vang S, Bergin PF, Graves ML, Russell GV, Spitler CA, Hydrick JM, Teague D, Ertl W, Hickerson LE, Moloney GB, Weinlein JC, Zelle BA, Agarwal A, Karia RA, Sathy AK, Au B, Maroto M, Sanders D, Higgins TF, Haller JM, Rothberg DL, Weiss DB, Yarboro SR, McVey ED, Lester-Ballard V, Goodspeed D, Lang GJ, Whiting PS, Siy AB, Obremskey WT, Jahangir AA, Attum B, Burgos EJ, Molina CS, Rodriguez-Buitrago A, Gajari V, Trochez KM, Halvorson JJ, Miller AN, Goodman JB, Holden MB, McAndrew CM, Gardner MJ, Ricci WM, Spraggs-Hughes A, Collins SC, Taylor TJ, Zadnik M (2021). Effect of Intrawound Vancomycin Powder in Operatively Treated High-risk Tibia Fractures: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Surg, e207259.
  2. Rogers MJ, King TL, Kim J, Adeyemi TF, Higgins TF, Maak TG (2021). Femoral Neck Shaft Angle and Management of Proximal Femur Fractures: Is the Contralateral Femur a Reliable Template? (Epub ahead of print) J Orthop Trauma.
  3. Kellam PJ, Dekeyser GJ, Haller JM, Rothberg DL, Higgins TF, Marchand LS (2020). Predicting Syndesmotic Injury in OTA/AO 44-B2.1 (Danis-Weber B) Fractures. J Orthop Trauma, Publish Ahead of Print.
  4. Kellam PJ, Dekeyser GJ, Bailey TL, Haller JM, Rothberg DL, Higgins TF, Marchand LS (2021). Is the Fibular Station on Lateral Ankle Radiographs Symmetric? A Retrospective Observational Radiographic Study. Clin Orthop Relat Res, 478(12), 2859-2865.
  5. DeKeyser GJ, Wilson JM, Kellam PJ, Spencer C, Haller JM, Rothberg DL, Wagner ER, Higgins TF, Marchand LS (2020). Young Intertrochanteric Femur Fractures are Associated with Fewer Complications than Young Femoral Neck Fractures. (Epub ahead of print) J Orthop Trauma.
  6. Kellam PJ, Dekeyser GJ, Rothberg DL, Higgins TF, Haller JM, Marchand LS (2020). Symmetry and reliability of the anterior distal tibial angle and plafond radius of curvature. Injury, 51(10), 2309-2315.
  7. Marchand LS, Working ZM, Rane AA, Elliott IS, Gilbertson E, Rothberg DL, Higgins TF, Haller JM (2019). Compartment Syndrome in Tibial Plateau Fractures: Do Previously Established Predictors Have External Validity? J Orthop Trauma, 34(5), 238-243.
  8. Program of Randomized Trials to Evaluate Pre-operative Antiseptic Skin Solutions in Orthopaedic Trauma PREP-IT Investigators, Slobogean GP, Sprague S, Wells J, Bhandari M, Rojas A, Garibaldi A, Wood A, Howe A, Harris AD, Petrisor BA, Mullins DC, Pogorzelski D, Marvel D, Heels-Ansdell D, Mossuto F, Grissom F, Del Fabbro G, Guyatt GH, Della Rocca GJ, Demyanovich HK, Gitajn IL, Palmer J, DAlleyrand JC, Friedrich J, Rivera J, Hebden J, Rudnicki J, Fowler J, Jeray KJ, Thabane L, Marchand L, OHara LM, Joshi MG, Talbot M, Camara M, Szasz OP, OHara NN, McKay P, Devereaux PJ, OToole RV, Zura R, Morshed S, Dodds S, Li S, Tanner SL, Scott T, Nguyen U (2020). Effectiveness of Iodophor vs Chlorhexidine Solutions for Surgical Site Infections and Unplanned Reoperations for Patients Who Underwent Fracture Repair: The PREP-IT Master Protocol. JAMA Netw Open, 3(4), e202215.
  9. Marchand LS, Jacobson LG, Stuart AR, Haller JM, Higgins TF, Rothberg DL (2019). Assessing Femoral Rotation: A Survey Comparison of Techniques. J Orthop Trauma, 34(3), e96-e101.
  10. Haller JM, Githens M, Rothberg D, Higgins T, Nork S, Barei D (2019). Pilon Fractures in Patients Older Than 60 Years of Age: Should We Be Fixing These? J Orthop Trauma, 34(3), 121-125.
  11. HEALTH Investigators, Bhandari M, Einhorn TA, Guyatt G, Schemitsch EH, Zura RD, Sprague S, Frihagen F, Guerra-Farfn E, Kleinlugtenbelt YV, Poolman RW, Rangan A, Bzovsky S, Heels-Ansdell D, Thabane L, Walter SD, Devereaux PJ (2019). Total Hip Arthroplasty or Hemiarthroplasty for Hip Fracture. N Engl J Med, 381(23), 2199-2208.
  12. Kellam PJ, Haller JM, Rothberg DL, Higgins TF, Marchand LS (2019). Posterior Malleolar Fracture Morphology in Tibial Shaft Versus Rotational Ankle Fractures: The Significance of the Computed Tomography Scan. J Orthop Trauma, 33(12), e459-e465.
  13. Jones DL, Jones WA, Fleming KI, Higgins TF, Rothberg DL, Zhang Y, Pannucci CJ (2019). Underdosing of Prophylactic Enoxaparin Is Common in Orthopaedic Trauma and Predicts 90-Day Venous Thromboembolism. J Orthop Trauma, 33(11), 570-576.
  14. Haller JM, Githens M, Rothberg D, Higgins T, Nork S, Barei D (2019). Risk Factors for Tibial Plafond Nonunion: Medial Column Fixation May Reduce Nonunion Rates. J Orthop Trauma, 33(9), 443-449.
  15. Schultz B, Fogel N, Finlay A, Collinge C, Githens MF, Higgins T, Mehta S, OToole RV, Summers H, Bishop JA, Gardner MJ (2019). Orthopedic Surgeons Have Inadequate Knowledge of the Cost of Trauma-Related Imaging Studies. Orthopedics, 42(5), e454-e459.
  16. Kellam PJ, Haller JM, Rothberg DL, Higgins TF, Marchand LS (2019). Posterior Malleolar Fracture Morphology in Tibial Shaft versus Rotational Ankle Fractures: The Significant of the Computed Tomography Scan. (Epub ahead of print) J Orthop Trauma.
  17. Hsu JR, Mir H, Wally MK, Seymour RB, Orthopaedic Trauma Association Musculoskeletal Pain Task Force (2019). Clinical Practice Guidelines for Pain Management in Acute Musculoskeletal Injury. J Orthop Trauma, 33(5), e158-e182.
  18. Haller JM, Githens M, Rothberg D, Higgins T, Barei D, Nork S (2019). Syndesmosis and Syndesmotic Equivalent Injuries in Tibial Plafond Fractures. J Orthop Trauma, 33(3), e74-e78.
  19. Obremskey WT, Higgins TF, Bettger JP, Vrahas MS, Lundy DW (2018). Use of Patient-Related Outcomes After Orthopaedic Trauma: Helpful or Not So Much? J Orthop Trauma, 32 Suppl 1, S48-S51.
  20. Haller JM, Marchand L, Rothberg DL, Kubiak EN, Higgins TF (2017). Inflammatory cytokine response is greater in acute tibial plafond fractures than acute tibial plateau fractures. J Orthop Res, 35(12), 2613-2619.
  21. Marchand LS, Rane AA, Working ZM, Jacobson LG, Kubiak EN, Higgins TF, Rothberg DL (2017). Radiographic Investigation of the Distal Extension of Fractures Into the Articular Surface of the Tibia (The RIDEFAST Study). J Orthop Trauma, 31(12), 668-674.
  22. Seymour RB, Ring D, Higgins T, Hsu JR (2017). Leading the Way to Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic: AOA Critical Issues. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 99(21), e113.
  23. Marchand LS, Working ZM, Rane AA, Jacobson LG, Kubiak EN, Higgins TF, Rothberg DL (2017). Serial Radiographs Do Not Change the Clinical Course of Nonoperative Stable OTA/AO 44-B1 Ankle Fractures. J Orthop Trauma, 31(5), 264-269.
  24. Marchand LS, Rothberg DL, Kubiak EN, Higgins TF (2017). Is This Autograft Worth It?: The Blood Loss and Transfusion Rates Associated With Reamer Irrigator Aspirator Bone Graft Harvest. J Orthop Trauma, 31(4), 205-209.
  25. OToole RV, Joshi M, Carlini AR, Murray CK, Allen LE, Scharfstein DO, Gary JL, Bosse MJ, Castillo RC, METRC (2017). Local Antibiotic Therapy to Reduce Infection After Operative Treatment of Fractures at High Risk of Infection: A Multicenter, Randomized, Controlled Trial (VANCO Study). J Orthop Trauma, 31 Suppl 1, S18-S24.
  26. Haller JM, Marchand L, Rothberg DL, Kubiak EN, Higgins TF (2017). Inflammatory cytokine response is greater in acute tibial plafond fractures than acute tibial plateau fractures.LID - 10.1002/jor.23567 [doi]. J Orthop Res.
  27. Dibbern K, Kempton LB, Higgins TF, Morshed S, McKinley TO, Marsh JL, Anderson DD (2016). Fractures of the tibial plateau involve similar energies as the tibial pilon but greater articular surface involvement. J Orthop Res, 35(3), 618-624.
  28. Sagi HC, Donohue D, Cooper S, Barei DP, Siebler J, Archdeacon MT, Sciadini M, Romeo M, Bergin PF, Higgins T, Mir H (2017). Institutional and Seasonal Variations in the Incidence and Causative Organisms for Posttraumatic Infection following Open Fractures. J Orthop Trauma, 31(2), 78-84.
  29. Working ZM, Elliott I, Marchand LS, Jacobson LG, Presson AP, Stuart A, Rothberg DL, Higgins TF, Kubiak EN (2017). Predictors of amputation in high-energy forefoot and midfoot injuries. Injury, 48(2), 536-541.
  30. McKenzie AI, Briggs RA, Barrows KM, Nelson DS, Kwon OS, Hopkins PN, Higgins TF, Marcus RL, Drummond MJ (2017). A pilot study examining the impact of exercise training on skeletal muscle genes related to the TLR signaling pathway in older adults following hip fracture recovery. J Appl Physiol (1985), 122(1), 68-75.
  31. Kempton LB, Dibbern K, Anderson DD, Morshed S, Higgins TF, Marsh JL, McKinley TO (2016). Objective Metric of Energy Absorbed in Tibial Plateau Fractures Corresponds Well to Clinician Assessment of Fracture Severity. J Orthop Trauma, 30(10), 551-6.
  32. Beebe MJ, Jenkins P, Rothberg DL, Kubiak EN, Higgins TF (2016). Prospective Assessment of the Oncogenic Risk to Patients From Fluoroscopy During Trauma Surgery. J Orthop Trauma, 30(7), e223-9.
  33. Haller JM, Holt D, Rothberg DL, Kubiak EN, Higgins TF (2016). Does Early versus Delayed Spanning External Fixation Impact Complication Rates for High-energy Tibial Plateau and Plafond Fractures? Clin Orthop Relat Res, 474(6), 1436-44.
  34. Bogdan Y, Tornetta P 3rd, Einhorn TA, Guy P, Leveille L, Robinson J, Bosse MJ, Haines N, Horwitz D, Jones C, Schemitsch E, Sagi C, Thomas B, Stahl D, Ricci W, Brady M, Sanders D, Kain M, Higgins TF, Collinge C, Kottmeier S, Friess D (2016). Healing Time and Complications in Operatively Treated Atypical Femur Fractures Associated With Bisphosphonate Use: A Multicenter Retrospective Cohort. J Orthop Trauma, 30(4), 177-81.
  35. Beebe MJ, Jenkins P, Rothberg DL, Kubiak EN, Higgins TF (2016). Assessing the Oncogenic Risk to Patients from Fluoroscopy during Trauma Surgery. J Orthop Trauma.
  36. Stuart AR, Higgins TF, Hung M, Weir CR, Kubiak EN, Rothberg DL, Saltzman CL (2015). Reliability in Measuring Preinjury Physical Function in Orthopaedic Trauma. J Orthop Trauma, 29(12), 527-32.
  37. Janssen SJ, Teunis T, Guitton TG, Ring D, Science of Variation Group (2015). Do Surgeons Treat Their Patients Like They Would Treat Themselves? Clin Orthop Relat Res, 473(11), 3564-72.
  38. Haller JM, OToole R, Graves M, Barei D, Gardner M, Kubiak E, Nascone J, Nork S, Presson AP, Higgins TF (2015). How much articular displacement can be detected using fluoroscopy for tibial plateau fractures? Injury, 46(11), 2243-7.
  39. Haller JM, Swearingen CA, Partridge D, McFadden M, Thirunavukkarasu K, Higgins TF (2015). Intraarticular Matrix Metalloproteinases and Aggrecan Degradation Are Elevated After Articular Fracture. Clin Orthop Relat Res, 473(10), 3280-8.
  40. Haller JM, McFadden M, Kubiak EN, Higgins TF (2015). Inflammatory cytokine response following acute tibial plateau fracture. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 97(6), 478-83.
  41. Kubiak EN, Haller JM, Kemper DD, Presson AP, Higgins TF, Horwitz DS (2015). Does the lateral plate need to overlap the stem to mitigate stress concentration when treating Vancouver C periprosthetic supracondylar femur fracture? J Arthroplasty, 30(1), 104-8.
  42. Haller JM, Holt DC, McFadden ML, Higgins TF, Kubiak EN (2015). Arthrofibrosis of the knee following a fracture of the tibial plateau. Bone Joint J, 97-B(1), 109-14.
  43. Beckmann JT, Presson AP, Curtis SH, Haller JM, Stuart AR, Higgins TF, Kubiak EN (2014). Operative agreement on lateral compression-1 pelvis fractures. a survey of 111 OTA members. J Orthop Trauma, 28(12), 681-5.
  44. Paryavi E, Pensy RA, Higgins TF, Chia B, Eglseder WA (2014). Salvage of upper extremities with humeral fracture and associated brachial artery injury. Injury, 45(12), 1870-5.
  45. Holman JE, Stoddard GJ, Horwitz DS, Higgins TF (2014). The effect of preoperative counseling on duration of postoperative opiate use in orthopaedic trauma surgery: a surgeon-based comparative cohort study. J Orthop Trauma, 28(9), 502-6.
  46. Hung M, Stuart AR, Higgins TF, Saltzman CL, Kubiak EN (2014). Computerized Adaptive Testing Using the PROMIS Physical Function Item Bank Reduces Test Burden With Less Ceiling Effects Compared With the Short Musculoskeletal Function Assessment in Orthopaedic Trauma Patients. J Orthop Trauma, 28(8), 439-43.
  47. Hung M, Stuart AR, Higgins TF, Saltzman CL, Kubiak EN (2014). In response. J Orthop Trauma, 28(8), 444.
  48. Rossiter ND, Higgins TF, Pallister I (June, 2014). The Mangled Extremity: Limb Salvage vs. Amputation. Orthop Trauma, 28(3), 137-140.
  49. Chrastil J, Sampson C, Jones KB, Higgins TF (2014). Evaluating the affect and reversibility of opioid-induced androgen deficiency in an orthopaedic animal fracture model. Clin Orthop Relat Res, 472(6), 1964-71.
  50. Rothberg D, Higgins T (2012). Fractures of the proximal humerus. Orthop Clin North Am, 44(1), 9-19.
  51. Hunt KJ, Higgins TF, Carlston CV, Swenson JR, McEachern JE, Beals TC (2010). Continuous peripheral nerve blockade as postoperative analgesia for open treatment of calcaneal fractures. J Orthop Trauma, 24(3), 148-55.
  52. Higgins TF, Baumgaertner MR (1999). Diagnosis and treatment of fractures of the talus: a comprehensive review of the literature. Foot Ankle Int, 20(9), 595-605.
  53. Higgins TF, DeLuca PA, Ariyan S (1999). Salvage of open tibial fracture with segmental loss of tibial nerve: case report and review of the literature. J Orthop Trauma, 13(5), 380-5.


  1. Gardner MJ, Graves ML, Higgins TF, Nork SE (2015). Technical Considerations in the Treatment of Syndesmotic Injuries Associated With Ankle Fractures. [Review]. J Am Acad Orthop Surg, 23(8), 510-8.

Book Chapter

  1. Rothberg D, Higgins TF (2013). Fractures of the Proximal Humerus. In Leslie MP, Dodds SD (Eds.), Emerging Concepts in upper Extremity Trauma (44, pp. 9-19). Philadelphia: Elsevier, Inc.

Global Impact


  • 01/06/2020 Volunteer Surgeon Served one month with Health Volunteers Overseas performing and teaching orthopaedic trauma surgery at orthopaedic residency program at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu, Bhutan Bhutan
  • 08/16/2014 Volunteer Surgical Faculty Served two weeks in 2014 and four months in 2015 as volunteer orthopaedic trauma faculty at residency training program in Kijabe, Kenya. Kenya
  • 02/01/1999 Visiting Physician Accompanied Dr. W. Southwick in Orthopaedic Surgery Volunteer Missions Haiti
  • 02/01/1998 Visiting Physician Accompanied Dr. W. Southwick in Orthopaedic Surgery Volunteer Missions Haiti
  • 01/01/1994 Extern Practiced General Medicine for four months as the Only Ex-Patriot "Physician" in Camp for 50,000 refugees Afghanistan

Videos & News

The Scope & Other Podcasts

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  • Physician Profile: Thomas Higgens

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Thomas F. Higgins, MD Practice Location