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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Knee surgery new battleground for robot makers!

The world’s top medical technology companies are turning to robots to help with complex knee surgery, promising quicker procedures and better results in operations that often leave patients dissatisfied.

Demand for artificial replacement joints is growing fast, as baby boomers’ knees and hips wear out, but for the past 15 years rival firms have failed to deliver a technological advance to gain them significant market share.
Now US-based Stryker and Britain’s Smith & Nephew believe that is about to change, as robots give them an edge.
Robots should mean less trauma to patients and faster recovery, although they still need to prove themselves in definitive clinical studies, which will not report results for a couple of years.
Fares Haddad, a consultant surgeon at University College London Hospitals, is one of the first in Britain to use the new robots and has been impressed. However, he agrees healthcare providers need decisive data to prove they are worth an investment that can be as much as $1 million for each robot.
Satisfaction rates are only around 65 per cent for knee operations, against 95 per cent for hips, according to industry surveys. Orthopaedic companies hope to emulate the success of Intuitive Surgical, an early pioneer of robots in hospitals, which now has more than 4,000 of its da Vinci machines installed around the world for procedures including prostate removal, hernia repair and hysterectomies.
Surgeon Haddad said the machines were very different and healthcare systems would need to assess their cost-effectiveness in the light of clinical trial results.
“I think the clinical benefit will be pretty obvious but whether that justifies the upfront outlay is a big question.”
— Reuters

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