Doctors Hospital Achieves Robotic Spine Surgery Milestone

Doctors Hospital of Sarasota recently completed 100 Mazor Robotics Tenaissance guidance system procedures, performed by the team of Dr. Tan Ly and Dr. Thomas Sweeney. The Mazor technology allows spine surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures on patients who previously were not considered good surgical candidates.

Dr. Thomas Sweeney and Dr. Tan Ly to speak at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota

Dr. Thomas Sweeney and Dr. Tan Ly will be speaking about Spine procedures at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 from 5:30pm-6:30pm.

Light refreshments will be served and seating is limited, call today to reserve your spot! 5741 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, FL 34233 Medical office building adjacent to Doctors Hospital.

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Doctors Hospital, Dr. Sweeney and Southeastern Spine Center. Dr. Sweeney specializes in minimally invasive Endoscopic Spine surgery, decompression, fusion and instrumentation up to three levels is performed with the Atavi@ System.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sweeney contact us or visit


Understanding Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Options

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Dr. Thomas Sweeney. For additional information, please contact us today.

Dr. Thomas Sweeney is nationally recognized as a leader in the Minimally Invasive Surgery Procedures. Dr. Sweeney serves as an instructor for other surgeons across the United States for different minimally invasive techniques and access devices. These include the Pathfinder from Abbott Spine and the X-lift from Nuvasive.
The advantages of having minimally invasive access vs the traditional open surgery technique are:

  • Reduction of time spent in the hospital. (Average length is 24 hours)
  • Less pain so less narcotics utilized.
  • Less scarring
  • Less blood loss during surgery.
  • Overall a quicker recovery period to get back to daily activities and work.
  • Reduction of health-care costs

Dr. Sweeney has performed more surgeries using theAtavi@ System than any other surgeon in the United States. Dr. Sweeney serve as an instructor for surgeons across the USA to learn these procedures using the Atavi@ System. For more information about the Atavi@ System,
please visit

This surgical technique involves two very small incisions that allows a tubular introducer called a cannula, to be inserted into the affected area of the spine and visualize the space utilizing an endoscopic camera and monitor or a microscope.

This system allows the surgeon to complete all the steps involved in the surgery thus eliminating the large incisions that can be more traumatic to the body.

Dr. Sweeney has special training and clinical expertise to perform these surgeries. If an individual is not a good candidate for Minimally Invasive Access Surgery, a Traditional Open Approach can be utilized.

Minimally Invasive Surgeries include:

Microsurgical Discectomy is a procedure performed by utilizing a tubular device inserted through a very small incision. Muscles are moved aside to see the vertebrae. The herniated portion of the disc is removed to allow room for the nerve to resume its normal position. There is less damage to nearby parts of the spine. Patients tend to recover faster. This is usually done using a microscope for visualizing.

Spinal Stenosis - Spinal Stenosis is minimally invasive procedure that relieves debilitating pain in the back and legs. This new treatment option involves implanting an X-Stop, a titanium alloy implant. This is a low-risk alternative to the current LSS treatment options and has been clinically proven to relieve a patients symptoms.

Endoscopic Discectomy - Many surgical procedures have been revolutionized by the use of special TV cameras. The procedure is still the same, but even smaller incisions (1/4 inch) are made to insert a special magnified TV camera into the spinal canal so that the surgeon can actually see the disc material. Through these tiny incisions, the camera and several other surgical instruments are inserted. Rather than looking through a microscope, the doctor watches the TV screen while working with specially designed instruments to remove the disc material.

Transforaminal Lumbar Fusion (TLIF) is a surgical technique that is performed from a posterior approach to stabilize the spinal vertebrae and disc between. By going through the transforaminal direction there is less bone removed so thus less disturbance to the site. By fusing the vertebrae to eliminate any movement between the bones, the spine is stabilized and a reduction of pain and nerve irritation is accomplished. Surgical hardware (screws and rods) can be applied to help enhance the fusion. Bone graft, along with an interbody spacer will be inserted into the disc space helping to restore normal height and opening up the nerve foramina to take pressure off the nerve roots.

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) is a surgical technique for placing bone graft between adjacent vertebrae (interbody). Using various instruments, the disc is removed through the right and left sides of the spinal canal and the intervertebral space, which has been cleared, is then packed with bone graft and a bone block or cage implant. Instrumentation, such as pedicle screws, are used to provide support for the fused vertebrae. Additional bone graft may be placed to ensure a solid fusion.

Instrumented Posterior Lumbar Fusion is a surgical procedure done with a posterior approach to stabilize the Spinal vertebrae. This is done utilizing special surgical instrumental hardware such as metal screws and rods (hardware) that holds the vertebrae in place. These devices are intended to stop movement from occurring between the vertebrae. These metal devices give more stability to the fusion site and allow the patient to be out of bed much sooner.

Kyhoplasty is a surgical procedure for compression fractures by percutaneously inserting a flexible instrument that utilizes a balloon that inflates and restores the correct anatomy of the vertebral body. The inflated space is then filled with a cement that will maintain the integrity of the vertebrae.

Nucleoplasty or Percutaneous Discectomy is a procedure utilized for the treatment of chronic back pain caused by a contained herniated disc. This minimally invasive procedure uses a needle that is placed into the center of the disc where a series of channels are created to remove tissue from the nucleus. Tissue removal from the nucleus acts to decompress the disc and relieve the pressure exerted by the disc on the nearby nerve root.




Non-surgical treatment options for Spinal Care with Dr. Thomas Sweeney

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Dr. Thomas Sweeney, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon. Here are several non-surgical treatment options we would like to share with you for spinal care.

If you would like additional information on how you can schedule your Florida Medical Retreat with Dr. Sweeney contact us today! We look forward to assisting you! or call (800) 643-0529.

Dr. Sweeney and his team attempt to treat as conservatively as possible, as many patients can recover without surgery because of the wide spectrum of treatments available. Approximately 90% of our patients can be treated utilizing conservative medical treatments to eliminate or reduce pain. Below are some of the common non-surgical methods of treatments that can be used separately or in combinations as the physician plans an individual's treatment plan.

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy may be indicated and ordered as a treatment to facilitate the patient's successful recovery. These techniques are often very effective as the first step in a conservative course of treatment for certain spinal disorders. The physician will refer a patient to a rehabilitation therapy center for programs specifically designed for spinal patients.

These therapy programs will include learning how to manage their symptoms, minimize any further injury with activity, learn body mechanics, and gain the strength and flexibility needed to help return to their daily activities. Active participation is the key to success in the therapy process and an understanding that recovery takes time.


Bracing may be ordered by the physician as part of your treatment. There are soft and rigid bracing available for both the neck and the back. The primary rationale for the use of bracing is to mobilize and support the spine, or to possibly correct a spinal deformity. This type of support may decrease muscle spasms and pain. The physician will determine if a brace would be of benefit to you along with the specific model that would be indicated. When a brace is ordered a clinician will provide the educational training to utilize the brace properly and receive the maximum benefit..



Medications are often utilized in the medical management of pain and other symptoms a patient may be experiencing. Medication may be the primary source of treatment or in conjunction with another therapy. There are a variety of types of medications available for the specialist to use that would correlate with the patient's specific diagnosis and treatment plan.


One of the treatment options to be utilized may include injections that can help to alleviate pain and improve function. Injections can help to relieve the pain that is caused by inflammation. There are a variety of injections that are either therapeutic or diagnostic. This will be determined by your physician based on your specific symptoms and physical exam. These injections can be done on an outpatient basis in our procedure room or in another Surgery Center.

Osteopathic Manipulation - Osteopathic Spinal Manipulation

Osteopathic manipulation is primarily used to treat musculoskeletal pain conditions, such as back pain, shoulder pain, and tension headaches. It involves manipulation of soft tissues and joints outside the spine utilizing gentle, large movements. OM is often said to be specifically effective for conditions that have persisted for some time. There are several specific osteopathic techniques in wide use, many of which are named after their founders. For such treatments we will refer you to one of the many outstanding and local physicians.

We hope this helped provide a little more information. Please call today if you have more questions.



Dr. Thomas Sweeney to Speak at Doctors Hospital

Dr. Thomas  Sweeney, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and Florida Medical Retreat partner physician will be speaking at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota on Tuesday, January 31st at 5:30pm. The lecture will be held in Doctors Hospital Auditorium.

For additional information please contact Crystal at (941) 552-3288 or (800) 643-0529.

Dr. Thomas Sweeney to Speak at Doctors Hospital

Dr. Thomas  Sweeney, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and Florida Medical Retreat partner physician will be speaking at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota on Tuesday, January 31st at 5:30pm. The lecture will be held in Doctors Hospital Auditorium. For additional information please contact Crystal at (941) 552-3288 or (800) 643-0529.

When your back can't take it anymore

In today's Sarasota Herald Tribune, Health & Fitness edition,  Dr. Thomas Sweeney, of Southeastern Spine Center and Research Institute and member of Florida Medical Retreat discusses back pain.

Those of us who suffer even the fiercest, most electrifying back pain will do almost anything to avoid surgery. The buzz is that surgery is hardly ever successful.

But today, the National Institutes of Health reports that 83.9 percent of lumbar surgeries are successful. Some surgeons claim a 90 percent success rate in their practices. The failures, they say, are often due to the severity of the conditions they are trying to treat or to the poor state of health of the patient, not necessarily because of deficiencies in the procedures.

Some of the bad buzz also can be attributed to the practice of "sucker surgery" by doctors who have neither hospital accreditation nor privileges.

When patients do elect surgery, they have to do their homework when looking for a surgeon.

Many are beguiled by board certification. Not only is that not enough, it is easy to fake. Anyone can set up a board because there are no government regulations to prevent them from doing so. But not anyone can get accredited by a hospital or achieve privileges to do surgery there.

Often people don't know whether they should see an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon. And while neurosurgeons do deal with other structures, like the brain, that are off-limits to orthopedic surgeons, when it comes to back problems, they can be equally proficient these days. It is a good idea to interview both kinds of surgeons. We did.

To read the whole article:

Medical Paradise - Article about Florida Medical Retreat in Gulf Coast Business Review

Debra Sandberg, the administrator at a high-end rehabilitation therapy center in Sarasota, recently set out on a new business mission: to turn the town into a player in the niche world of medical tourism.

It’s an ambitious goal and it comes with a secondary, yet juicy element. Sandberg wants the business, Florida Medical Retreat, to infuse some much-needed capitalism into the national health-care debate. Says Sandberg: “Anyone who has socialized medicine will be a big network for us.”

The company, Florida Medical Retreat, is a partnership that includes the Sarasota Bay Club, Sarasota-based senior living property management firm Roskamp & Patterson and local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Edward Stolarski. Sandberg cites Canada and Europe as places Florida Med-Retreat will seek potential clients, in addition to U.S. cities in the northeast and Midwest. 

“I didn’t even know there was a medical tourism industry,” says Sandberg, the CEO of Florida Medical Retreat and also the administrator of The Inn at Sarasota Bay Club. “But this is for real.”

Sarasota economic development officials agree.

In fact, more than 30 medical practices in Sarasota County reported an interest in medical tourism, according to an Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County survey. Moreover, at least 15 practices have international clients, the survey found, with a focus on vision, hearing and orthopedics, says Virginia Haley, president of the Sarasota County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Haley and EDC President and CEO Kathy Baylis say the survey helped build word-of-mouth interest in the industry.

“This is not your traditional kind of tourism,” says Baylis. “To really have medical tourism, it’s not enough to just have doctors doing the surgery. You also have to have the continuum of services.”

That’s where Sandberg hopes Florida Medical Retreat fits in. The concept is to simultaneously plug Sarasota’s first-rate attractions and its medical facilities, then provide concierge-style services from surgery through recuperation and rehab. Accommodations will be provided at the condos at the Bay Club, less than a mile from downtown Sarasota on U.S. 41. Says Sandberg: “[A patient] will be a VIP right through the whole process.”

Surgeons who will perform procedures through Florida Medical Retreat include: Sarasota-based Center for Sight founder Dr. David Shoemaker, who specializes in cataract and lens surgery; Dr. Thomas Sweeney, a leading local physician on minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery; and Dr. Brian Schofield, an orthopedic shoulder surgeon.

The tourism side of the business, says Sandberg, will include trips to places near Sarasota, like Busch Gardens and the Dali Museum. Other trips will be closer to home, such as the Sarasota Opera House and beaches.

One early challenge Florida Medical Retreat faces is one familiar to the health-care industry: how to price services. The company recently joined the West Palm Beach-based Medical Tourism Association for assistance in pricing and other aspects of the industry. 

A second challenge for Florida Medical Retreat lies in another task familiar to many businesses: how to find clients. The company recently hired its first employee beyond Sandberg, a marketing director who will use the Internet and other networking sources to generate interest. 

“We are going to have to build our reputation,” says Pilar von Lazar, Florida Medical Retreat’s marketing director. “People will have to hear about us.”


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