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Paving the Way
UW Health on the forefront of robotic-assisted hip replacement surgery


March 2016

For those suffering from painful hip joint pain and arthritis, replacement provides much needed relief and allows for better movement and function.

For years, all hip replacement surgeries were done manually by well-trained, skilled surgeons. And while many of today’s surgeries are still done manually, a new robotic-assisted option is available, allowing for better accuracy and better outcomes.

"There’s no question the technology is more accurate than doing it manually," says Dr. Richard Illgen, director of the joint replacement program at the University

of Wisconsin.

Illgen and UW Health were the first in the state to offer robotic-assisted hip replacement surgery when it became available in 2012. Since that time, UW Health has performed more than 350 surgeries using a robot, which allows for more accurate implant positioning resulting in fewer dislocations and less chance for leg

length discrepancy.

In fact, UW Health did a study of the first 100 consecutive robotic cases, at minimum two-year follow-up, and had no reports of dislocations. Prior to that, Illgen, using his manual surgical technique, had a dislocation rate

of 3 percent.

"Hip replacement is a great operation whether you do it manually or robotically. But when done manually there are still some limitations that remain in terms of accuracy — surgical accuracy," says Illgen.

There are currently 300 robots nationwide — at least one in every state, according to Illgen. Wisconsin has three robots used for this advanced type of hip replacement surgery. Illgen believes that the robotics take great surgeons and make them even better, and provide the results patients expect.

"The goal of taking out an arthritic joint and putting in a more functional joint is so people have less pain and better function," says Illgen.

Robotic-assisted hip replacement surgery is just the beginning, he adds, as software is now being developed for full robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery.



This story ran in the March 2016 issue of: