In 2020, in a world first, Dr. Josh Schroeder performed a successful complex spinal surgery on a fully conscious patient suffering from a spine fracture whose multiple injuries precluded general anesthesia.

“Where most hospitals reject the extreme cases deeming them too dangerous, we are prepared to take them on… this is what makes Hadassah a world-leading hospital.” – Dr. Josh Schroeder

After completing the world’s first spinal fracture surgery assisted by a duo of surgical robots in 2017, Dr. Josh Schroeder and his team are constantly introducing novel practices and procedures in patient care. Schroeder, a senior orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine injuries and anomalies in children and adults, heads Hadassah’s Spinal Deformity Unit.

Disheartened by the difficulty in treating the aged population, a large majority of whom cannot undergo general anesthesia, Schroeder and colleagues pioneered the use of local anesthesia in complex spinal surgeries which has become known as “awake surgery.”

Dr. Josh Schroeder in one of the operation rooms at Hadassah Ein Kerem

With nearly a third of patients admitted for complex spine surgeries being elderly – the revolutionary procedure has already had a tremendous impact.

Schroeder also treats youngsters with severe congenital spinal deformities, often leading to thoracic insufficiency syndrome and death from compromised airways. The challenge is to straighten their spines and permit respiratory improvement and enhanced posture. “It is a huge team at Hadassah that comes together to get these children through the operation.

“We allow them to live,” he beams.

Hadassah Ein Kerem houses the world’s most advanced spinal surgical robot, the Mazor X Stealth Edition. Schroeder is participating in R&D for the robot’s enhancements and Hadassah is a European Instruction Center for Mazor X.

Born at Hadassah Mount Scopus, Schroeder is a graduate of Hadassah Medical School, did his first residency at Hadassah, and his kids were born there too. He was a Spine Fellow at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. He served as an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer in joint teams with Palestinians for regional cooperation, and now serves as a reserve military doctor in the IDF.


Tikun Olam (Healing the World)

In 2018, Ethiopia’s first scoliosis Surgery was successfully performed by a Hadassah surgical team on a medical mission co-led by Josh Schroeder. The Hadassah medical team performed complex spine surgeries at Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital in Mekelle, which serves a population of 8 million without a single spine surgeon. Patients treated were all under the age of 18 and exhibited severe spinal deformities with potentially fatal complications. “If we hadn’t operated on these children, at least half of them would have died within a year,” reported Schroeder.


This article was originally published in the Hadassah International 2021 Year in Review which you can check out HERE.


Right: Dr. Josh Schroeder performed Ethiopia’s first scoliosis surgery.