St. David's Office of Research

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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 physician 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

St. David’s special orthopedic surgeon are active in providing advanced clinical care and outcome research on multiple areas including spine implants. Moreover, multiple clinical evaluation studies are around:

  • Degenerative Disk Disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spinal Curvatures
  • Tumor
  • Pedicle screw system
  • Evaluate the safety and efficacy of pedicle screw system in the lumbar spine
  • Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
  • Degenerative Spondylolisthesis
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (LSS)
  • Combats against degenerative spine disease which is a disease that limits normal movement as people age

Infection Prevention

St. David’s HealthCare orthopedic and spine surgeons are active in research around the prevention of surgical site infections, examining the incidents and risk factors associated with surgery. Furthermore, research studies have been around how to minimize common gram-positive bacteria brought to the hospital by patients, as well as methods to reduce any potential hospital-acquired infections. Pre-and-post operative prevention strategies to reduce surgical site infections is a top area of research interest.

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: