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Stephen J. O'Brien, MD, MBA

Sports Medicine

About Dr. O'Brien


Dr. Stephen J. O’Brien is an Attending Orthopedic Surgeon at HSS and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He also serves as a Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. O’Brien specializes in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College where he was a member of both the varsity football and varsity baseball teams. He then completed his medical degree from the University of Virginia, his internship at Yale University, and his residency at HSS. He also did his fellowship in Sports Medicine at HSS.

Since starting his practice in 1987, he has been involved in teaching, research, and team coverage for organizations such as the New York Giants, St. John’s University Athletic Department, New York Racing Association, and the New York Saints Professional Lacrosse Team. Dr. O’Brien has also taken active leadership roles on national societies such as the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), where he has served on the board of directors, and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) Association, where he currently serves on the membership committee.

Dr. O’Brien has also been actively involved in research throughout his career. He has authored 24 book chapters and 117 peer-reviewed or review articles on numerous topics within sports medicine and orthopaedics. Currently, his research interests have focused on an algorithm he developed for the diagnosis and treatment of biceps-labral disorders.

Dr. O'Brien also received his MBA from Columbia University in 2000, graduating as the president of his class, and delivering his graduation class day speech.


Special Expertise

Disorders of the Biceps-Labrum Complex: Diagnosis and Treatment
Labrum Tears
Sub-deltoid Arthroscopy
Shoulder Arthroscopy
Rotator Cuff Repair
Shoulder Instability
Elbow Arthroscopy
Knee Arthroscopy
ACL Reconstruction
Other Knee Ligament Reconstruction
Total Knee Replacement

Patient Stories

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If your insurance is not listed, please call our office if you have questions regarding your insurance coverage. If you have out-of-network benefits, then your insurance may reimburse you for a portion of your office visit. We will work with you and your insurance to minimize your out-of-pocket costs. Financial assistance may be available for patients in need.



Attending Orthopedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery
Attending Orthopedic Surgeon, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College


International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopedic Sports Medicine, 2010-Present
American Orthopedic Association, 2008 – Present
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 1991 – Present
American Shoulder & Elbow Surgeons, 1991 – Present
      Journal Reviewer (2010-Present)
      Research Committee (2004-2007)
      Nominating Committee (2003-2004)
Arthroscopy Association of North America, 1994 – Present
      Learning Center Committee (1997-1999)
      Research Committee (1995-1997)
American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, 1991 – Present
      Nominating Committee (2010-Present)
      Research Committee (2010-Present)
      Council of Delegates (2006-2008)
      Council of Delegates (2003-2007)
      Research Committee (1994-2000)
      Board of Directors (1997-1999)
Thomas B. Quigley Sports Medicine Society, 1987 – Present
      Vice President (2010)
      Program Chair (2010)
Harvard Alumni Association
      Elected Director (1992-1995)


American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery: Orthopaedic Surgery Re-certification
Valid through December 31, 2019

American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery: Subspecialty in Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Re-Certification
Valid through December 31, 2018


James R. Andrews Award for Excellence in Baseball Sports Medicine, 2012
30th Annual Injuries in Baseball Course, American Sports Medicine Institute.
Birmingham, AL

Sports Illustrated Top Surgeon in Sports, 2012
"Under the Knife: top surgeons blend research, track records". Sports Illustrated

Cappagh Foundation Honoree for Outstanding Career Contribution to Orthopedics, 2010
Cappagh Foundation Day Lecture, Cappagh Hospital Medical Board, Dublin, Ireland

Lewis Clark Wagner Award (PI for Resident Research), 2008
Top Resident Research, Hospital for Special Surgery

6th Annual Laurence A. Mack Award (co-recipient), 2001
Advancements in Sonography, Society for Radiologists in Ultrasound

Distinguished Service Award, 2000
Columbia University Executive MBA Program, Class 2000-A

Graduation Class Day Speaker, 2000
Columbia University Executive MBA Program, Class 2000-A

Class President, 2000
Columbia University Executive MBA Program, Class 2000-A

Distinguished Lecturer, 1991
American Sports Medicine Institute, Birmingham, AL

Optimate Society Award for Excellence in Medicine/Society, 1991 

Lewis Clark Wagner Award (PI for Resident Research), 1989
Resident Essay Award, Arthroscopy Association of North America

Charles S. Neer Award, 1989
Top Shoulder Research, American Shoulder & Elbow Society

Phillip D. Wilson Award, 1987
Top Fellows Research, Hospital for Special Surgery

Lewis Clark Wagner Award, 1986
Top Resident Research, Hospital for Special Surgery


MD, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia
Surgical Internship, Yale University Medical Center, New Haven, CT
MBA, Columbia Business School, New York, NY


Orthopaedic Surgery, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York


Sports Medicine, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York

State Licensure



Publications by Dr. O'Brien

Selected Books/Chapters

  1. Normal Anatomy and Pathoanatomy of the Superior Labrum. Gausden B, Taylor SA, O’Brien SJ. Disorders of the Proximal Tendon Diagnosis and Treatment. 2013. AAOS Monograph.
  2. Arthroscopic Treatment of Biceps Tendon Injuries: Transfer to the Conjoint Tendon. Taylor SA, Baret NJ, O’Brien SJ.   Disorders of the Proximal Tendon Diagnosis and Treatment. 2013. AAOS Monograph.
  3. Chapter 26: Point-Counterpoint: SLAP Tears: Transfer of the Long Head of the Biceps. Sliva N., Gausden E, McCarthy M, O’Brien SJ. Controversies in Shoulder Instability. Editors Dodson CC, Dines DM, Walch G, Williams G. Dec 2013.
  4. Chapter 16: Arthroscopy of the Subdeltoid Space and Biceps Transfer. Taylor SA, McCarthy M, Newman AM, O’Brien SJ.  Master Techniques In Orthopaedic Surgery – The Shoulder. Editor Craig EV. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a division of Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.; Philadelphia, PA; 2012.
  5. Chapter 21: SLAP Lesion: Arthroscopic Reconstruction of the Labrum and Biceps Anchor. Operative Techniques: Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. Taylor SA, Drakos MC, Shonkweiler JT, O’Brien SJ. Editors Lee DH, Nevaiser RJ. Elsevier J.B. Saunders Co.; Philadelphia, PA; 2011.
  6. Developmental Anatomy of the Shoulder and Anatomy of the Glenohumeral Joint. James E. Voos, MD; Andrew Neviaser, MD; Mark C. Drakos, MD; Stephen J. O'Brien, MD. THE SHOULDER. 4th Edition. Edited by Charles A. Rockwood, Jr., MD; Frederick A. Matsen III MD; Michael A. Wirth MD; Steven B. Lippitt MD. J.B. Saunders Co.; Philadelphia, PA; 2009.
  7. Anterior Instability of the Shoulder. Samuel A. Taylor, MD; Mark C. Drakos, MD; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD. The Athlete’s Shoulder, 2nd Edition: Chapter 17. Edited by James R. Andrews, MD, and Kevin E. Wilk, PT. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier: Philadelphia, PA; January 2009.
  8. Elbow. Ronald M. Selby, MD; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD. Practical Orthopedic Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy. DH Johnson, R Pedowitz. (eds.) Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins: Philadelphia, PA; December 2006.
  9. Developmental Anatomy of the Shoulder and Anatomy of the Glenohumeral Joint. Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Stephen Fealy, MD; Mark C. Drakos, BA; Jonathan Botts, BA. THE SHOULDER. 3rd Edition. Charles A. Rockwood Jr., MD; Fredrick A Matsen III, MD; Michael A. Wirth MD; Steven B. Lippitt, MD. (eds.) J.B. Saunders Co.: Philadelphia, PA; April 2004.
  10. Arthroscopic Laser Surgery of the Knee. Mark C. Drakos, BA; Stephen V. Fealy, MD; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD. THE KNEE. Thomas L. Wickiewicz, MD. (ed.) Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins; Philadelphia, PA; 2003.
  11. Developmental and Gross Anatomy of the Elbow. Todd Guyette, MD; Mark Drakos, BA; Stephen Fealy, MD; Joshua Hatch, MD; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD. THE ATHLETE’S ELBOW. David A. Altchek MD, James A. Andrews, MD. (eds.) Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins: Philadelphia, PA; 2001.
  12. Gross and Microscopic Anatomy of the Shoulder. Jeffrey R. Dugas, MD; Daniel E. Cooper, MD; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD. THE UNSTABLE SHOULDER. Warren RF, Craig EV, Altchek DW (eds.) Lippincott-Raven Publishers: Philadelphia, PA; 1999.
  13. Developmental Anatomy of the Shoulder and Anatomy of the Glenohumeral Joint. Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Answorth A. Allen, MD; Stephen Fealy, MD; Scott A. Rodeo, MD; Steven P. Arnoczky, MD. THE SHOULDER, 2nd Edition Rockwood CA, Matsen FA (eds.) W.B. Saunders Co.: Philadelphia, PA; 1998.
  14. The Glenoid Based Capsular Shift for Anterior and Posterior Glenohumeral Instability. Answorth A. Allen, MD; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Stephen Fealy, MD. AN ATLAS OF SHOULDER SURGERY. Fu FH, Ticker JB, Imhoff AB (eds.) Martin Dunitz, Inc.: London, England; 1998.
  15. Anterior Shoulder Instability: Anatomy, Pathophysiology, and Conservative Management. Cato T. Laurencin, MD; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD. INJURIES IN BASEBALL. James R. Andrews, Bertram Zarins, Kevin E. Wilk. (eds.) Lippincott-Raven Publishers: Philadelphia, PA; 1998.
  16. Ligamentous Problems and their Operative Procedures in the Throwing Athlete. Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Cato Laurencin, MD. INJURIES IN BASEBALL. Bertram Zarins, MD; James Andrews, MD. (eds.) Lippincott-Raven: Philadelphia, PA; 1998.
  17. Laser Surgery in Orthopaedics. Stephen Fealy, BA; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Drew V. Miller, MD. KNEE SURGERY. Fu FH, Harner CD, Vince KG, Miller MD (eds.) Williams & Wilkins, Inc.: Baltimore, MD; 1994.
  18. Arthroscopic Laser Surgery. Drew V. Miller, MD; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Stephen Fealy, BA; Mary Anne Gibney, RN, MPH; Anne M. Kelly, MD. THE KNEE. Scott WN (ed.) Mosby Yearbook, Inc.: St. Louis, MO; 1994.
  19. Anterior Instability of the Shoulder. Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Michael J. Pagnani, MD; Robert A. Panariello, RPT; Hugh M. O'Flynn, MD; Stephen Fealy, BA. THE ATHLETE'S SHOULDER. Andrews JR, Wilk KE. (eds.) Churchill Livingstone: New York, NY; 1994.
  20. Lasers in Orthopaedics. Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Stephen Fealy, BA. ORTHOPAEDIC KNOWLEDGE UPDATE-4. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: Rosemont, IL; 1993.
  21. Lasers and the Meniscus. Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Drew V. Miller, MD; Stephen Fealy, BA; Mary Ann Gibney, RN, MPH; Anne M. Kelly, BA. THE MENISCUS: BASIC AND CLINICAL FOUNDATIONS. Van C. Mow, PhD; Steven P. Arnoczky, DVM; Robert W. Jackson, MD. (eds.) Raven Press: New York, NY; 1992.
  22. Anatomy of the Shoulder. Steven P. Arnoczky, DVM; David W. Altchek, MD; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD. OPERATIVE ARTHROSCOPY. James B. McGinty, MD. (ed.) Raven Press: New York, NY; 1991.
  23. Developmental Anatomy of the Shoulder and the Glenohumeral Joint. Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Steven P. Arnoczky, DVM.; Russell F. Warren, MD. THE SHOULDER. Charles A. Rockwood, Jr., MD. (ed.) J.B. Saunders Co.: Philadelphia, PA; 1990.
  24. Arthroscopic Surgery with a Contact Nd:YAG Laser. Anne M. Kelly, BA; Stephen J. O’Brien, MD; Drew V. Miller, MD; Stephen V. Fealy, BA; Russell F. Warren, MD; Steven P. Arnoczky, DVM. LASERS IN ORTHOPAEDICS. Henry H. Sherk, MD. (eds.) J. B. Lipincott Co.: Philadelphia, PA; 1989.



Biceps-Labrum Complex Disorders

Controversy exists among shoulder surgeons over the role of the labrum and biceps as pain generators in the shoulder, and there seems to be increasingly polarizing points of view. Some argue that the labrum is a common pain generator, especially in young athletes, while others contend that the labrum is not a common pain generator and is over diagnosed as such. Similarly, as some shoulder surgeons argue that the long bead of the biceps tendon is a common pain generator, others assert that it is, as well, over diagnosed, and over treated. The work Dr. O’Brien has been doing in this area over the last ten years has led him to the conclusion that there should be a paradigm shift in the way we think about this issue. He believes that the anatomy and clinical functionality of the biceps and labrum work as ONE structure, the Biceps-Labrum Complex, instead of two separate entities. Dr. O’Brien has developed a clinical testing system, called the “3-Pack” along with an arthroscopic exam which guides him in the diagnosis of a patient’s pain. He is currently validating this clinical examination testing system with arthroscopic correlations noted during surgery.

An important outcome of Dr. O’Brien’s testing has been the development of a new surgical procedure called the Biceps Transfer. Dr. O’Brien created this procedure in 2002, and has since performed over 600 biceps transfers. The procedure, designed to fill a void in orthopaedic surgery on treatment options for the long head of the biceps tendon, has been extremely successful in Dr. O’Brien’s hands.
In order to continue to better understand the idea of the biceps-labrum complex, Dr. O’Brien and his research team are actively involved in different research studies for patients who are treated for shoulder pathology under his care. Each research project aims to address a different stage of the diagnosis and treatment processes. Below is a list of projects that are currently underway:

  • Biceps Tenodesis: A Comparison of Tendon-to-bone And Tendon-to-tendon Healing In A Rat Model
    The purpose of this study has been to determine the impact of tenodesis location on tissue healing and inflammation based upon histologic and immunohistochemical analysis in a rat model.
  • The “3-Pack” Examination: Validated Objective Criteria to Clinically Identify Bicipital Etiology of Shoulder Pain, #10116
    Documents initial exams and questionnaires performed by Dr. O’Brien and research team, results of arthroscopic examination performed during biceps transfer surgery, and results short term follow up exams (from 6 weeks to 1 year post op)
  • Medium term results of transfer of the long head of the biceps tendon: 2-5 year follow up, #10127
    Documents medium term follow up exams and questionnaires performed by Dr. O’Brien and research team, evaluates econometrics of transfer surgery compared with other treatments, as well as patient satisfaction with outcomes


Another focus of Dr. O’Brien’s research is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL. Dr. O’Brien performs roughly 100 ACL reconstruction surgeries a year.

  • The Arthroscopic Appearance of the MPFL, [in review]

Clinical Trials

Industry Relationships

Industry Relationships

One of the goals of HSS is to advance the science of orthopedic surgery, rheumatology, and related disciplines for the benefit of patients. Physicians at HSS may collaborate with outside companies for education, research and medical advances. HSS supports this collaboration in order to foster medical breakthroughs; however HSS also believes that these collaborations must be disclosed.

As part of the disclosure process, this website lists physician collaborations with outside companies. The disclosures are provided by information provided by the physician and other sources and are updated regularly. Further information may be available on individual company websites.

Below are the healthcare industry relationships reported by Dr. O'Brien as of March 24, 2023.

MEDIFLIX - Board or Committee Member

By disclosing the collaborations of HSS physicians with industry on this website, HSS and its physicians make this information available to their patients and the public, thus creating a transparent environment for those who are interested in this information. Further, the HSS Conflicts of Interest Policy does not permit physicians to collect royalties on products developed by him/her that are used on patients at HSS.

Patients should feel free to ask their HSS physicians questions about these relationships.

Dr. O'Brien in the News

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