Robotic arm-assisted versus conventional unicompartmental knee arthroplasty: Exploratory secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial

Bone Joint Res. 2017 Nov;6(11):631-639. doi: 10.1302/2046-3758.611.BJR-2017-0060.R1.


Objectives: This study reports on a secondary exploratory analysis of the early clinical outcomes of a randomised clinical trial comparing robotic arm-assisted unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) for medial compartment osteoarthritis of the knee with manual UKA performed using traditional surgical jigs. This follows reporting of the primary outcomes of implant accuracy and gait analysis that showed significant advantages in the robotic arm-assisted group.

Methods: A total of 139 patients were recruited from a single centre. Patients were randomised to receive either a manual UKA implanted with the aid of traditional surgical jigs, or a UKA implanted with the aid of a tactile guided robotic arm-assisted system. Outcome measures included the American Knee Society Score (AKSS), Oxford Knee Score (OKS), Forgotten Joint Score, Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) activity scale, Short Form-12, Pain Catastrophising Scale, somatic disease (Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Score), Pain visual analogue scale, analgesic use, patient satisfaction, complications relating to surgery, 90-day pain diaries and the requirement for revision surgery.

Results: From the first post-operative day through to week 8 post-operatively, the median pain scores for the robotic arm-assisted group were 55.4% lower than those observed in the manual surgery group (p = 0.040).At three months post-operatively, the robotic arm-assisted group had better AKSS (robotic median 164, interquartile range (IQR) 131 to 178, manual median 143, IQR 132 to 166), although no difference was noted with the OKS.At one year post-operatively, the observed differences with the AKSS had narrowed from a median of 21 points to a median of seven points (p = 0.106) (robotic median 171, IQR 153 to 179; manual median 164, IQR 144 to 182). No difference was observed with the OKS, and almost half of each group reached the ceiling limit of the score (OKS > 43). A greater proportion of patients receiving robotic arm-assisted surgery improved their UCLA activity score.Binary logistic regression modelling for dichotomised outcome scores predicted the key factors associated with achieving excellent outcome on the AKSS: a pre-operative activity level > 5 on the UCLA activity score and use of robotic-arm surgery. For the same regression modelling, factors associated with a poor outcome were manual surgery and pre-operative depression.

Conclusion: Robotic arm-assisted surgery results in improved early pain scores and early function scores in some patient-reported outcomes measures, but no difference was observed at one year post-operatively. Although improved results favoured the robotic arm-assisted group in active patients (i.e. UCLA ⩾ 5), these do not withstand adjustment for multiple comparisons.Cite this article: M. J. G. Blyth, I. Anthony, P. Rowe, M. S. Banger, A. MacLean, B. Jones. Robotic arm-assisted versus conventional unicompartmental knee arthroplasty: Exploratory secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial. Bone Joint Res 2017;6:631-639. DOI: 10.1302/2046-3758.611.BJR-2017-0060.R1.

Keywords: Randomised controlled trial; Robotic; Unicompartmental knee arthroplasty.