By: 2 August 2019
Robotic knee replacements a first in the North East

Orthopaedic surgeons at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital are the first in the North East to use robotic surgery in the NHS for knee replacements.

The Newcastle Hospitals is a nationally recognised centre of excellence for leading-edge robotic surgery and offers it in seven different clinical specialities, more than any other trust in England.

The latest clinical area to embrace this innovative technology is orthopaedics – specifically in the field of total knee replacement. The new approach involves a MAKO robotic arm, designed to support the surgeon to carry out knee replacements as accurately as possible.  

Total knee replacement is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the world, with over 100,000 carried out in the UK alone each year. However, between 10 and 20 per cent of patients who undergo knee replacements are disappointed with the outcome of their operation, with some needing revision surgery.

Newcastle’s experts, Professor David Deehan and Mr David Weir, have carried out more than 2,000 of these operations using the high performing Triathlon implant, using conventional techniques.

They believe the poor experiences reported may be due to the difficulty in positioning the knee implant precisely.

Professor Deehan, consultant orthopaedic surgeon specialising in revision and complex knee disorders at the Freeman Hospital, explains: “Proper implant position and balance of the soft tissues during surgery are extremely important factors that can affect the success and longevity of a total knee replacement. Dissatisfaction with the return of function after knee replacement remains a challenge.

“Part of the solution to such is tailoring implant position in the joint to match the patient’s soft tissues. Robotic assisted surgery offers the promise of improving the surgeons’ ability to achieve this.”

Mr Weir who also specialises in complex knee surgery adds: “This technique ensures the tissues, ligaments and implant are all correctly balanced, enabling full range of knee movement, as smoothly as possible.

“We’re very pleased with the results so far and are looking to offer this option to all our total knee replacement patients in future, initially as part of a randomised trial to help us compare outcomes against the conventional technique.”

Source: The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust