Robots on the Cutting EdgeRobots have been helping doctors replace joints since the early 1990s. ROBODOC is used for this operation. The purpose of this study is to report differences in results when using robotic-assisted versus manually implanted total hip replacements (THRs).
Doctors at a German hospital put 154 THRs in patients with osteoarthritis. Each patient got the same kind of implant to make the comparison possible. ROBODOC was used for the robotic-assisted operations. A planning software called ORTHODOC was also used.
The authors report longer operating time and more nerve damage with ROBODOC. The reamer also stops when it comes to areas of hardened bone and won't restart. The doctors must take over at that point. Using a robotic reamer means that all soft tissue must be cut at the starting point. The reamer also cut into some layers of the hip tendons. This resulted in a higher rate of hip dislocations.
The robotic-assisted operation did give the patient a close fit of the implant to bone. Researchers aren't sure if this makes a difference in the final results yet. The authors think robotic technology for joint replacement needs more work. Better and safer results are needed before using ROBODOC for everyone.
Matthias Honl, MD, et al. Comparison of Robotic-Assisted and Manual Implantation of a Primary Total Hip Replacement: A Prospective Study. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. August 2003. Vol. 85-A. No. 8. Pp. 1470-1478.
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