The learning curve associated with roboticarm assisted unicompartmental knee arthroplasty: A PROSPECTIVE COHORT STUDY

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AimsThe primary aim of this study was to determine the surgical team's learning curve for introducing robotic-arm assisted unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) into routine surgical practice. The secondary objective was to compare accuracy of implant positioning in conventional jig-based UKA versus robotic-arm assisted UKA.Patients and MethodsThis prospective single-surgeon cohort study included 60 consecutive conventional jigbased UKAs compared with 60 consecutive robotic-arm assisted UKAs for medial compartment knee osteoarthritis. Patients undergoing conventional UKA and robotic-arm assisted UKA were well-matched for baseline characteristics including a mean age of 65.5 years (SD 6.8) vs 64.1 years (SD 8.7), (p = 0.31); a mean body mass index of 27.2 kg.m2 (SD 2.7) vs 28.1 kg.m2 (SD 4.5), (p = 0.25); and gender (27 males: 33 females vs 26 males: 34 females, p = 0.85). Surrogate measures of the learning curve were prospectively collected. These included operative times, the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) questionnaire to assess preoperative stress levels amongst the surgical team, accuracy of implant positioning, limb alignment, and postoperative complications.ResultsRobotic-arm assisted UKA was associated with a learning curve of six cases for operating time (p < 0.001) and surgical team confidence levels (p < 0.001). Cumulative robotic experience did not affect accuracy of implant positioning (p = 0.52), posterior condylar offset ratio (p = 0.71), posterior tibial slope (p = 0.68), native joint line preservation (p = 0.55), and postoperative limb alignment (p = 0.65). Robotic-arm assisted UKA improved accuracy of femoral (p < 0.001) and tibial (p < 0.001) implant positioning with no additional risk of postoperative complications compared to conventional jig-based UKA.ConclusionRobotic-arm assisted UKA was associated with a learning curve of six cases for operating time and surgical team confidence levels but no learning curve for accuracy of implant positioning.Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2018;100-B:1033–42.

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