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Robotic trials in arthroplasty surgery

design of the RACER studies and implications for the future

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Total hip and knee arthroplasty (THA, TKA) are largely successful procedures; however, both have variable outcomes, resulting in some patients being dissatisfied with the outcome. Surgeons are turning to technologies such as robotic-assisted surgery in an attempt to improve outcomes. Robust studies are needed to find out if these innovations are really benefitting patients. The Robotic Arthroplasty Clinical and Cost Effectiveness Randomised Controlled Trials (RACER) trials are multicentre, patient-blinded randomized controlled trials. The patients have primary osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. The operation is Mako-assisted THA or TKA and the control groups have operations using conventional instruments. The primary clinical outcome is the Forgotten Joint Score at 12 months, and there is a built-in analysis of cost-effectiveness. Secondary outcomes include early pain, the alignment of the components, and medium- to long-term outcomes. This annotation outlines the need to assess these technologies and discusses the design and challenges when conducting such trials, including surgical workflows, isolating the effect of the operation, blinding, and assessing the learning curve. Finally, the future of robotic surgery is discussed, including the need to contemporaneously introduce and evaluate such technologies.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2024;106-B(2):114–120.

Correspondence should be sent to Andrew Metcalfe. E-mail:

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