Science fiction is now medical science in Magnolia with the introduction of Kneemo.
“Kneemo” was the name chosen by staff at Magnolia Regional Medical Center for the new Mako SmartRobotics robot that already assists Dr. Kevin Rudder in orthopedic surgeries at the MRMC.
The hospital and Rudder deployed Kneemo for a meet and beep Thursday with guests.
Kneemo is the only one of its kind in Arkansas south of Little Rock, or in northern Louisiana.
“Pretty soon, if you don’t have that equipment, they won’t allow you to do knee replacement surgery at all,” Rudder said.
Rudder, with the help of Kneemo, examines the patient. They offer a personalized knee operation that is programmed into the Kneemo software.
“It helps me cut the bone perfectly. I have to tell him what to do. It limits what I can do. He won’t let me cut outside the diameter of the bone. I will not injure any vascular structure or any soft tissue structure. That in itself cuts down on recovery time, ”Rudder said.
The same technology could allow Rudder to eventually expand into the areas of kneecap or hip joint replacement at MRMC.
Mako robots have already performed more than 500,000 knee replacements. This means that the software has collected data from half a million operations which refines the knowledge base of the software for future operations.
It is even possible to install a chip to monitor the wear of the new knee. Surgeons are now seeing replacement knees that have been successfully implanted for two decades.
Rudder, from Lisbon in neighboring Union County, has already had training and experience in using a Mako robot. He said he tried for seven years to persuade his old clinic to buy one.
“We came to Magnolia and we fixed the problem,” said Rudder, praising the staff at Magnolia Regional Medical Center, members of the Board of Trustees, the MRMC Foundation and General Manager Rex Jones.
Rudder said that a typical attitude of orthopedic surgeons is: “I don’t need a stinky robot. I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I know what I’m doing.’ Now, I know the doctors that say that say it because they can’t get one.
Kneemo and Rudder have already performed three knee replacements and have four more scheduled. They are reserved until August. Patients are usually standing and walking on the day of their surgery.
Jones said MRMC is blessed to have someone of Dr. Rudder’s talent. He told Thursday’s assembly that Magnolia had not had an orthopedic surgeon for 14 years and that it was important to recruit the best possible. “We only had one chance to engage the community,” Jones said.
Jones’ behind-the-scenes investigation of Rudder revealed “he really is a rock star.” We can build our orthopedic program around him thanks to his skills.
Rudder’s resume goes beyond the knees. Patients with back problems and other orthopedic conditions are also welcome at the Rudder Clinic in the LifeSmart building on North Jackson Street.
The MRMC is nearing completion of renovations to the LifeSmart Center with 12 examination and treatment rooms. Rudder will use six.
So what do the other six rooms have in store?
Jones said renovating the MRMC is part of how the hospital is using its COVID-19 relief funds. The renovated space can be used as an “overflow” space for virus victims.
Perhaps more importantly, the renovation creates space for another medical specialist.
“A second recruit is easier than the first, especially if the first is successful,” Jones said.