An Innovator in Joint Replacement
By MELANIE KILGORE-HILL
Hodrick Utilizes Robotics, Safer Pain Options for Better Outcomes
Jeffrey Hodrick, MD, is creating new standards in orthopaedic care. Through innovation in robotics and post-surgical treatment, the joint replacement surgeon is improving outcomes with less risk of opioid addiction during recovery.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Hodrick received his bachelor's degree from Duke University, where he served as captain of the Blue Devils football team. It was there he'd meet his greatest professional influence: a team doctor who spotted Hodrick's potential early on.
"I was taking an anatomy lab and he told me, 'Son, you're going to be an orthopaedic surgeon.' I didn't know what that was but told him I'd love to know more about that," Hodrick recalled.
He went on to attend Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and completed residency training in orthopedic surgery at Duke University Medical Center, where he received the Duke University Health System Strength, Hope, and Caring Award in 2006. To further enhance his skills, Hodrick completed a fellowship in Adult Reconstruction at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
Today, the orthopaedics chair at TriStar Centennial specializes in robotic-assisted knee replacements and direct anterior hip replacements, and he educates other surgeons on these procedures nationwide. Hodrick said he's especially excited about the future of robotics in knee replacement and believes there's still room to improve outcomes.
"I've been re-energized by this, because it's a different way to think about knee replacement with the ability to balance the knee while considering the bone, soft tissue and patient's native alignment. It's a level of precision that we have not had access to before," he said.
Part of the team at Southern Joint Replacement Institute, he's also optimistic about other industry trends, including a younger demographic eager to improve quality of life early on, thanks in part to innovation in outpatient joint replacement. "It's still amazing to me that we can do a knee, hip or shoulder and they go home the same day," he noted, remembering the days when patients would stay remain hospitalized up to five days, often requiring blood transfusions. "It speaks to the whole surgery, not just the technical part. It's a complete team effort with a lot of advances on the anesthesia side, and patients are mobilized a lot sooner, as well."
A pioneer in outpatient joint replacements, Hodrick promotes a rapid recovery for all of his patients with adjunctive therapies.
"In essence, orthopaedic surgery is a pain-relieving surgery, but it's also a big one so patients should expect a reasonable amount of discomfort" he said. "Sometimes the treatment for pain can be worse than the original problem, so for a long time the thought was to try to drive pain down to zero. That was a bad idea, because it drove up unwanted side effects and exposed the patient to potential addiction to opioids."
Today, Hodrick's mission is to use the least amount of narcotics possible, treating patients with anti-inflammatories or topicals that make it reasonable to function. "Our focus now is on recovery, not pain," he said. "There's a big difference because these therapies don't accumulate side effects."
Fortunately, Hodrick said many patients today agree and are hesitant to take narcotics, complaining about nausea, skin crawling and just feeling "loopy." In many cases, he's also opting for regional anesthesia to allow for numbness without loss of muscular control. "It's very reassuring for a physician to see a patient walking around three to four hours after a replacement," he said.
Hodrick took his commitment to lessen narcotics one step further by developing Crush the Crisis, a prescription take-back effort launched at TriStar Centennial in 2017. Today the annual event has been rolled out enterprise-wide throughout HCA Healthcare.
"Everyone's well aware of the dangers of narcotics, and the majority of addicts started with a prescription pain med - sometimes their own, but most have been taken or diverted from a loved one," he said. "We ask folks to go into their medicine cabinets and get rid of meds they're keeping 'just in case' so that a loved one's not at risk."
In 2020, residents in 95 HCA Healthcare communities across the nation safely disposed of 13,523 pounds of medication, more than doubling the medications collected in 2019. The event is held in alignment with the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, aimed at educating communities on the dangers of opioid misuse and the importance of safe and proper disposal of expired and unused prescription medications.
Hodrick is pleased with the outcome and awareness created by Crush the Crisis, now in its fourth year. "It's caught on and is a way to make a difference," said the father of two. "As an orthopaedic surgeon, I do prescribe narcotics so it's important to be aware of these things. As soon as we even start talking about narcotics, we talk about tapering off and options to get it out of the home. We focus on patient outcomes and how to help them get back to life faster while ensuring they have the most excellent long-term outcomes. The final report card doesn't come out for 25 years after surgery, so we're mindful that the things we're doing now will affect them for a long time."