Dr. Rudy Rodriguez became a welcome addition to the medical community at the Missouri Delta Medical Center in 2013, bringing his orthopedic expertise and years of training and education in New York, Connecticut and Minnesota to the patients of Southeast Missouri. Now, he also offers his patients the benefit of joint replacement surgery with a state-of-the-art robotic-arm assisted system.
This surgeon-controlled robotic technology, called the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery System, is more precise in the placement of joint components, which can increase the life of the replacement joint, according to Dr. Rodriguez. And, the incision necessary to complete the replacement surgery is smaller, which reduces recovery time.
“This robotic-arm system allows us to be more precise than ever before,” Dr. Rodriquez says. “Instead of using an anatomical landmark to place the component, we use a three-dimensional image from a CT and the robotic system shows us where the cuts need to be made and where the component should be placed.”
Dr. Rodriguez says that when he compares a pre-operative image created by the Mako Robotic-Arm System and a post-operative image of the patient’s new joint, the two are almost an exact match. “It’s that accurate,” he says.
Currently, the system can be used for hip replacements and for partial knee replacements, giving patients needing these procedures hope for shortened recovery time and improved joint longevity. That hope is what inspired a group of elementary school students to name the robot.
The hospital recently held a contest seeking names for the “robot” and the students at St. Francis Xavier School won with their suggestion of “HOPE” (Helping other People Electronically). Dr. Rodriguez says he wasn’t part of the selection committee, but he thinks the name is appropriate.
“This system helps the surgeon put the component in the best possible anatomical place, with the least invasiveness, and that’s why I think this technology will be adopted by more and more hospitals and be developed for more and more procedures,” Dr. Rodriguez says. “It’s more advantageous for the success of surgery.”
Dr. Rodriquez received his bachelor of science degree from Brigham Young University. While a student there, he worked on a research project that involved studying osteoarthritis, which led to his interest in medicine and orthopedics. From that research experience, he published an article in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage journal in 2004.
He attended medical school at University of Connecticut School of Medicine where he was a member of the Scientific Research Society and was recognized for his presentation on “Reducing the Burden of Osteoporosis.”
He completed an Orthopedic Surgery Residency at the University of Minnesota and then an upper extremity and hand fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Rodriquez said that he chose to move from New York to Sikeston, MO, because he wanted to practice general orthopedics and have the opportunity to treat a full array of different conditions. “If you practice in a big city, you only do knees or only do hips – you have to narrow to one small area of orthopedics,” he says. “I find it more more interesting to work with patients with a variety of conditions and to practice all the skills I learned throughout my education.”
Dr. Rodriquez attended specialized training to work with the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery system, practicing with a surgeon experienced with the system before beginning to treat patients with the system last fall.
Missouri Delta Medical Center is the only hospital offering this procedure for hundreds of miles, and Dr. Rodriguez is proud to be able to provide this service to his patients.
“Some people think you have to go to a big city for this, but that’s not the case,” he says. “We have it right here.”
Dr. Rodriguez and his wife, Amy, have three children, Aubrey, 12, Leila, 9, and James, 5. He said the move from New York to Missouri was a little bit of an adjustment for the family, but they love the area and have discovered a love of hiking in the nearby towns.
“When we go on vacation, we like to get to the ocean, but we enjoy day trips to places like Mark Twain National Park and St. Genevieve,” he says.
Like most families with young children, the Rodriguez family stays busy getting kids to their extra curricular activities and sports. When he discovers a little down time, Dr. Rodriguez enjoys baseball, golf and reading.
Missouri Delta Orthopedics
Missouri Delta Orthopedics includes Dr. Rodriguez, a physician’s assistant and two nurse practitioners. They treat all types of orthopedic conditions including patients needing joint replacements or those with sports injuries, meniscus tears, shoulder dislocations, and hand, elbow, feet and knee issues. The practice sees patients from Sikeston and all the surrounding communities, including Poplar Bluff, Charleston, Southern Illinois and even some from the Memphis area.
“I like meeting people and seeing how they are doing,” Dr. Rodriguez says about his job. “I take a real interest in people and developing the doctor/patient relationship. That’s what drives me to go to work every morning.”
About the Author
Michelle Cox is a wife, mother and professional freelance writer/communications specialist in St. Louis, MO. She’s a regular contributor to stlouismag.com and an author for fiftiness.com (launching in September 2016) as well as their social media director. She also writes short stories and is working on her first novel, and she writes about writing on her website, michellecoxwriter.com, where she encourages other midlifers (not young, never “old”) to pick up a pen or keyboard.