Hospitals have been using Robots in surgical procedures like coronary artery bypass, hip replacement, total or partial kidney removal, kidney transplant just to mention a few. The cuts are smaller, pain and blood loss is lesser, recovery is faster, the scar is less with fewer complications from surgical incisions in the patient. Surgeons find precision, flexibility, control, and better vision at the site of surgery and also can perform delicate and complex procedures accurately. Some surgeons, like the traditional standard instruments, are simple to use, have pre-set angles to help do the operation using more of their skills and experience with no added expense.

In the UK alone, 100,000 traditional knee replacements procedures are carried out in a year. RACER (Robotic Arthroplasty: a Clinical and cost Effectiveness Randomised controlled trial) is set to compare surgical Robots to standard instruments to determine which is best at improving patient outcomes and reducing pain following surgery.

Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, and The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) in Birmingham have jointly decided to conduct a major national study in the area of knee replacement surgery to be performed by a surgeon who will use traditional standard instruments against a Robot and compare the benefits of the two techniques at improving patient outcomes and reducing pain after surgery. Mr. Andy Metcalfe, from UHCW and Warwick Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Warwick, and Professor Ed Davis, from ROH, are leading the study.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – the research partner of the NHS, public health, and social care is funding the Robot surgery randomized controlled trial for £1.6 million. The study will be conducted with equal numbers of participants in each treatment group to get a balanced and fair comparison of Robotic and human surgical technique outcomes and also understand people’s ability to do activities and their long-term quality of life. For knee replacement surgery, the Robotic arm is attached to a computer that has a pre-prepared map of the leg which guides the whole procedure with precision.

Over the coming months, the team plans to invite patients from six NHS hospitals across England and Scotland to take part in the study. To ensure hospitals do not have to pay anything extra by being a part of this study, the Robot company Stryker will support the study with funds.

Mr. Metcalfe says that he is delighted that the NIHR is extending its support. He says it is a world-leading multi-center study that will answer important questions in orthopedic surgery and is so pleased to get started.

Professor Davis added that with this study, orthopedic surgeons the world over will get an insight into the most effective tools and techniques that can be used in knee replacement surgeries.