THE NATIONAL Health Service (NHS) is launching a new trial in the UK to determine whether robot-assisted hip replacement surgery will one day be able to replace conventional human treatment.
The RACER-HIP study aims to evaluate the performance of both robots and humans, and to analyse patient outcomes. As hip replacement surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures within the NHS, the possibility for safe and effective robot-assisted surgery could significantly reduce the workload for healthcare professionals carrying out these operations.
The study will see participants from at least six hospitals across England and Scotland randomised into a robot-assisted group and a human surgery group in order to evaluate outcomes. Information will be gathered following surgery regarding both the patients’ ability to complete tasks and their quality of life long-term. The study will also incorporate an in-depth economic analysis to examine whether the technology should be adopted NHS-wide.
In robot-assisted surgery for patients requiring hip replacements, the procedure begins with a robotic arm preparing the bone and then inserting particular components into a 3D plan, which has been pre-programmed.
Despite robot-assisted surgery gaining popularity across the USA, there is as yet little evidence to suggest that robotic systems are more effective than conventional surgery. However, experts are of the opinion that robots have the ability to enhance precision in surgery, prevent both complications and poor outcomes for patients, and reduce treatment variation.
Using funding received from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), three NHS hospitals will be running the trial: Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Warwickshire, UK; University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, Warwickshire, UK; and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) Birmingham, West Midlands, UK. Some centres, such as Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, North Tyneside, UK, have been provided access to a robot specifically so that they can participate in this research.
Leading the trial are Peter Wall, ROH Birmingham, and Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, University of Warwick; and Ed Davis, ROH Birmingham. Wall commented: “Robotic technology has the potential to revolutionise hip replacement surgery. However, the first step to this is understanding whether it can help enhance the care surgeons provide.” Davis added: “The research will help orthopaedic surgeons across the world to better understand the most effective tools for performing hip replacement surgery and ensure the very best outcomes for their patients.”