St. David's HealthCare November 22, 2017

ROUND ROCK, Texas—St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center today announced it is the first site in the U.S., and only facility in Central Texas, to enroll patients in a clinical trial of carbon fiber implants for use in spinal fusions for patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD). Carbon fiber allows for clearer imaging of the spine after surgery, as the implanted hardware does not appear in x-ray imaging or interfere with MRI or CT scans. This technology for spinal fusion was first used in the U.S. in a procedure performed by Carl Lauryssen, M.D., director of neurosurgery at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center.

Current surgical treatment for lumbar DDD includes metal implants that hold the vertebrae together until new bone grows between them. These metal devices can interfere with imaging after surgery, creating a blurry picture of the spine. Carbon fiber allows for a clearer, “artifact-free” picture of the spine and in turn, improved follow-up care for the patient.  

“Over the past decade, carbon fiber implants have been used clinically for orthopedic surgeries,” Dr. Lauryssen said. “We are the first site in the U.S. to participate in this trial that could provide surgeons a better view of the spine post-operatively.”

While the clinical trial will evaluate the safety and effectiveness for lumbar DDD patients undergoing one level spinal fusion, Dr. Lauryssen notes the carbon fiber implants have significant implications for patients with spinal tumors. Currently, the system is used for spinal tumors in other countries, including two cases in the U.S. “The results are promising so far, and this innovation has the potential to positively impact more than DDD patients. When used in patients with spinal tumors, the treating physician is able to more accurately detect whether or not the tumor comes back after surgery.”

“We are honored to host this trial in Round Rock and support Dr. Lauryssen in this groundbreaking research,” Jeremy Barclay, chief executive officer of St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, said. “The research conducted and analyzed from this trial is the first step in a process that may positively affect patients by allowing for more accurate post-operative imaging and in turn, follow up care.”

For more information on this clinical trial at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, visit     

St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center  

St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center is part of St. David’s HealthCare, one of the largest health systems in Texas, which was recognized with a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2014. With 171 beds, the hospital’s comprehensive services include advanced cardiac care at the Heart Hospital of Austin at St. David's Round Rock—the first specialized cardiac facility in Williamson County— with the only Hybrid Operating Room (OR) in the county; emergency services in a 24-hour emergency department, including advanced trauma care with a Level II Trauma Center; St. David's Urgent Care Round Rock; and St. David's Emergency Center in Cedar Park. St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center is also known for providing advanced orthopedic and robotic services, among other complex specialties. In 2016, the hospital received the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence from Healthgrades and also earned a national distinction for patient safety from The Leapfrog Group.