Robotic-assisted knee replacements to be carried out as part of new study

Newcastle Hospitals is part of a major national study which will compare traditional methods of knee replacement versus a surgeon using a robotic arm to carry out the procedure.  

The RACER-knee study aims to determine which of the two techniques is best at improving patient outcomes and reducing pain following surgery.  

Patients taking part in the study will either receive a knee replacement that is performed with the assistance of a robot (MAKO), or one that has been performed with standard instruments.  

The robotic arm is always controlled by the surgeon and, if used, helps to perform the preparation of the bone for the knee replacement.  

Professor David Deehan, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Freeman Hospital and Honorary Professor at Newcastle University, is leading the study on behalf of the trust along with Mr David Weir, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. 

“There’s currently no evidence which helps us determine whether traditional methods are more or less effective than carrying out knee replacements using a robotic arm. The study will help us make this important determination with the aim of improving outcomes for patients after their knee replacement. 

“Although the RACER-knee study assesses total knee replacement, the technology has applications for hip replacements, too. We hope that further research helps to advance this technology so that it can be used to treat other musculoskeletal conditions, such as bone cancer.  

“For such studies to be successful, we rely on patients volunteering to take part and, as such, we would like to thank those who have taken part in previous studies” 

Strong reputation

Newcastle Hospitals performed the first robotic-assisted knee replacement in the North East at the Freeman Hospital. Laboratory assessment of robotic-assisted surgery has also been undertaken at the internationally-acclaimed surgical training centre based at the Freeman Hospital.  

Prof Deehan and Mr Weir have also previously used their expertise to lead a randomised controlled trial on intra-operative sensing and robotic-assisted knee replacements from the Freeman (ROAM study). 

None of this work would be possible without the support of the patient population and the orthopaedic research team. The team is incredibly grateful to the patient liaison groups which inform our work and drive clinical research. 

Further information 

  • Nationally, the study is being led by two surgeons: Mr Andy Metcalfe, from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire and Warwick Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Warwick, and Professor Ed Davis from the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. 
  • The £1.6 million randomised controlled trial is funded by the National Institute for Health Research – the research partner of the NHS, public health and social care. With equal numbers of participants in each treatment group, a balanced and fair comparison can be made to find out which surgical technique results in better outcomes. This will include asking questions about people’s ability to do activities and their quality of life in the long-term and will also find out which method provides the best value for the NHS.
  • Stryker, the manufacturer of the robotic arm, will be supporting the study with costs to ensure hospitals do not have to pay extra to take part. 

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