St. David's Office of Research

Main Navigation

Spine & Orthopedics

Spine and orthopedics research across St. David’s HealthCare focuses on improving patient outcomes through innovative treatments and technologies.

Our affiliated physicians and institutes are involved in research studies of novel spine and total joint (knees, hips and shoulders) implants, therapeutics, surgical procedures, and medications. We have a strong focus on driving innovation in advanced imaging, surgical pre-planning, robotics and minimally invasive surgical procedures. Select areas include:

Spine Surgery Outcomes

Our researchers are using mathematical models to understand the costs and outcomes of spine surgery and prolonged non-surgical care for treatment of herniated lumbar disks. We are investigating outcomes in patients undergoing operative and non-operative treatment for lumbar disc disease (LDD), which is one of the most common causes of low back pain. The pain and discomfort associated with LDD often spontaneously resolves over time; however, lumbar discectomy (removal of part of a disc) is the most frequently performed surgical procedure in the United States, and is typically done on an elective basis.The aim of this research is to better understand when it is advantageous to continue conservative care and when it is most beneficial for the patient to undergo a surgical procedure. This study may greatly improve treatment decisions and reduce the impact on the everyday lives of patients undergoing treatment for common problems such as herniated vertebral discs or sciatica.

Spine Implants

CarboFix CarboClear

St. David’s Medical Center is involved in a study evaluating the safety and effectiveness of a novel CRF-PEEK pedicle screw system, the CarboClear Pedicle Screw System (“CarboClear System”). The carbon-fiber implants provide superior radiographic visualization of implanted hardware and surrounding tissues. Learn more

Premia Spine TOPS

We are participating in the pivotal study of the TOPS™ System, which is an alternative to traditional fusion surgery for patients suffering from moderate to severe lumbar spinal stenosis and/or spondylolisthesis. Learn more

Infection Prevention


St. David’s HealthCare hospitals are participating, in collaboration with Austin Infectious Disease Consultants, in the STRIVE study that is investigating the safety and efficacy of a Staph aureus vaccine for the prevention of surgical-site infections following spine surgery. Learn more

Imaging Technologies

EOS System

St. David’s Medical Center is the only hospital in Austin offering advanced spinal and orthopedic imaging with the EOS system, which provides 2-D and 3-D imaging with low-dose radiation to patients in a standing position. EOS provides physicians with life-sized full-body images and 3-D models to make clinical decisions and plan personalized treatments. In the future, St. David’s will be participating in innovative research that utilizes this technology.

Please contact the Office of Research if you have interest in collaboration: