Dr James McLean

Dr James Mclean


Specialising in shoulder, elbow, wrist & hand disorders

About Adelaide Shoulder &
Upper Limb Clinic

Dr James McLean is the founding Director of the Adelaide Shoulder & Upper Limb Clinic. His practice and the Clinic are exclusively dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and surgery of the shoulder and upper limb.

  • All shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand disorders and injuries

  • Minimally-invasive, arthroscopic surgery and microsurgery

  • Joint replacement and reconstructive surgery

Dr James McLean is an active member of the Shoulder & Elbow Society of Australia and The Australian Hand Surgery Society. He holds the position of Head of Unit, Hand & Upper Limb Unit, at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He also holds an academic Senior Clinical Lecturer appointment through The University of Adelaide. Through these commitments, Dr McLean is now training the next generation of medical students and future upper limb surgeons.

Dr James McLean is one of only a few orthopaedic surgeons in South Australia to have completed two highly competitive, sub-specialty international clinical fellowships:

  • Shoulder & Elbow Fellowship at Addenbrooke’s Hospital / University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
  • Upper Limb & Hand Fellowship at St Paul’s Hospital / University of British Columbia (Canada)

Dr McLean has a particular interest in joint replacement and minimally-invasive arthroscopic (key-hole) surgery. He manages patient conditions associated with arthritis, trauma and sports injuries; and has a special interest in shoulder arthritis and rotator cuff disease. His practice is committed to providing the highest quality service standards for his patients.

An important part of Dr James McLean’s practice is committed to the development of new methods of diagnosis and treatment, as well as research into improving patient outcomes following surgery. In 2019, he completed his PhD thesis which helped establish an interactive electronic database aimed at improving outcomes for patients undergoing surgery. His ongoing contributions to orthopaedic literature have seen him co-author several book chapters on upper limb conditions, publish numerous research papers in peer-reviewed journals, and accept several accolades, including ‘best paper’ awards, research grants and research scholarships.

Through these commitments, Dr McLean maintains a high standard of personal and professional fulfilment, as well as being a devoted husband and father of three young children.

Orthopaedic research and teaching

Dr James McLean has a keen interest in research and was awarded the higher degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 2019; and Master of Surgery in 2010. He has accepted several scholarships, grants and prizes for his published work, including several “Best Paper” awards, and completed a PhD in 2019 which helped establish an interactive electronic database aimed at improving outcomes for patients undergoing surgery. Dr McLean’s practice has evolved to include the development of new methods of diagnosis and treatment. He continues to contribute to research and teaching through his clinical appointment at the University of Adelaide.

A Message from Dr James McLean

The decision to have surgery can be a difficult one. Sometimes, the decision can be easier, especially if the reason for surgery is a traumatic injury or a need to restore lost function.

Find the best orthopaedic surgeon for you

An important part of this decision is choosing a surgeon with whom you can trust your health and well-being. To me, this means that you should be comfortable with your surgeon’s credentials, training, experience and character.

Different surgeons have different styles, experience and training, and you should choose a surgeon whose reasoning and recommendations make sense to you.

My approach is evidence-based, using state-of-the-art surgical techniques and equipment. I developed this approach naturally from my experiences in Australia, Europe and North America, working alongside many internationally-renown orthopaedic surgeons. I take special care to fully understand all aspects of a patient’s life, before making any recommendations. Besides understanding your anatomy and clinical problem, this includes an appreciation of your individual concerns, personality and lifestyle. My primary goal is to obtain the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Dr James McLean | ASULC | Adelaide Shoulder & Upper Limb Clinic | Adelaide

Team approach for optimal outcomes

To achieve optimal outcomes, I work closely with a team of highly-skilled professionals who are dedicated to delivering the highest level of care possible. Our team includes your GP, a physician, a physiotherapist (and/or hand therapist), nurses, my assistant surgeon and our admin staff.

Much like planning for a weekend away, surgery involves pre-operative assessment and planning, the surgery itself and then post-operative recovery and rehabilitation. When possible, arthroscopic (key-hole) surgery can help patients to have a shorter hospital stay and return to their chosen lifestyle sooner. Each member of my team is dedicated to making your surgical experience as smooth as possible.


My practice is also committed to the development of new methods of diagnosis and treatment. I achieve this through an ongoing commitment to self-education, research and teaching, which keeps me up-to-date with new developments and technical advancements.