Robot-assisted surgery training in Basel, Germany
How do orthopaedic surgeons make sure that their technique and positioning of hip and knee replacements is as precise as it can possibly be?
The answer is that increasingly the world's leading orthopaedic surgeons are using robots to assist them with their surgery.
Most people do very well with standard techniques using jig and 'eye' ball instrumentation for hip and knee replacements, but there is a small percentage people who don't have good outcomes with this technique. Often single degrees and millimetres here and there make a big difference in a patient's outcome.
The Stryker MAKO robot is the first mainstream instrument to guide the surgeon's hand to millimetre precision, based on 3D CT scans of the patient which are uploaded to a computer for pre-operative simulation. With over 300 robots in action around the world and over 90,000 successful surgeries performed, the UK is a couple of years behind the US, Italy, Germany and Japan.
I have just come back from a training course in Basel which has taught me to use the MAKO and I am delighted to be one of only a handful of UK surgeons qualified to perform robotic assisted surgery for partial knee replacements, total knee replacements and total hip replacements. I did a lot of robot-assisted surgery during my training at Imperial, so the transition to the MAKO system has been straightforward.
What happens next? Princess Grace Hospital has bought the first MAKO Robot in the UK with great success so I am looking forward to using it there. At Kings College Hospital we are also going to start research into computer-assisted applications related to percutaneous pelvis trauma.