Trial to start evaluating robotic assisted hip surgery

A world first study will seek to evaluate the benefits of robotic assisted hip surgery, it has been announced.

The RACER-Hip Study has received £1 million funding to evaluate robotic-assisted surgery in the NHS.

The study, which will run alongside the existing RACER-Knee study announced last year, will be run jointly between Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) in Birmingham.

Robotic assisted hip and knee replacement surgery has increased rapidly over the last three years and the systems being introduced into the NHS are being presented as innovative best practice.

However, there is little evidence to show these systems are better than conventional surgery, the researchers say.

It is thought using a robot allows more precise, consistent surgical techniques and this may help to reduce variation and prevent poor outcomes and complications that can require redo surgery.

The study, which is being funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), is being led by two surgeons, Mr Peter Wall, from the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Birmingham and Warwick Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Warwick, and Professor Ed Davis, from the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Birmingham.

Mr Wall said: “The RACER-Hip study is a significant investment by the NHS to examine the effectiveness of robotic hip replacement surgery.

“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.

“We are really excited that some centres such as Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have been provided with a robot specifically to take part in this research.”

Professor 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.

“This study will also include an in-depth health economic analysis to inform the NHS if this technology should be widely adopted.”

Equal numbers of participants will be randomised to each treatment group to establish which surgical technique results in better outcomes. This will include asking questions about people’s ability to complete activities and their quality of life, as well as identifying which method provides the best value for the NHS.

The team will invite patients from at least six NHS hospitals in England and Scotland to take part over the next few months, with the first site already opening at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has also taken delivery of one of the robots for the trial.

RACER-Hip joins the RACER-Knee study which began recruitment 12 months ago and is helping answer the same questions for knee replacement surgery.

The RACER studies represent a £3 million investment by the NHS to help establish the effectiveness of robotic joint replacement surgery.

The studies are supported by professional bodies including the Royal College of Surgeons, British Hip Society and British Association of Knee Surgery.

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