St. David's Office of Research

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Spine & Orthopedics

At St. David’s HealthCare, our spine and orthopedics research focuses on improving patient outcomes through innovative treatment and technology.

Our affiliated physicians investigate novel spine and joint (knees, hips and shoulders) implants, therapeutics, surgical procedures, pre- and post-operative care paradigms, and medications. We drive innovation in advanced imaging, surgical pre-planning, robotics and procedures that encourage faster recovery. Select areas include:

Surgical Outcomes

Our physician researchers use qualitative (such as patient surveys) and quantitative (such as biomechanics and imaging) methods to understand the costs and outcomes of surgery and prolonged non-surgical care for treatment of degenerative, traumatic, and congenital conditions. For instance, we monitor outcomes for patients undergoing operative and non-operative treatment for lumbar disc disease, one of the most common causes of low back pain. The pain and discomfort associated with lumbar disc disease often 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 performed on an elective basis. By following the progress of our patients, we seek to better understand when patients will benefit most by continued conservative care or a surgical procedure. Similarly, we are comparing outcomes for patients who undergo different surgical approaches for similar conditions to understand which procedures are best suited to treat each individual patient. This research may greatly improve treatment decisions and reduce the impact on everyday life for our patients and others around the world.

Implant Design and Performance

St. David’s specialists provide advanced clinical care and perform outcome research for multiple types of orthopedic and spine implants. We have completed and ongoing clinical evaluation studies of devices and implants used at the knee, hip, shoulder, or spine to treat:

  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative Disk Disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spinal Curvatures
  • Tumors
  • Fractures

Infection Prevention

St. David’s HealthCare orthopedic and spine surgeons are keenly interested in pre- and post-operative strategies to prevent and reduce surgical site infections. We conduct research of ways to prevent surgical site infections and examine complications and risk factors associated with surgery. For example, some research studies have sought ways to minimize common gram-positive bacteria brought to the hospital by patients, while others have explored methods to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

Imaging Technologies

EOS System

St. David’s Medical Center is the only hospital in Austin offering advanced spinal and orthopedic imaging with an EOS system. This system captures 2-D and 3-D images of patients in a standing position using innovative technology that minimizes radiation well below that received with standard x-rays. Physicians use these full-body images and 3-D models of the joints under normal weight-bearing and postural conditions to make more informed clinical decisions and plans for personalized treatment. Researchers at St. David’s are also using this technology to better understand the effects of disorders and degeneration, follow patient progress after treatment, and develop tools to improve surgical planning.

Please contact the Office of Research if you have interest in collaboration: info@stdavidsresearch.com