Scientists develop robot that makes hip surgery simple

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{image-hip surgery_10022008.jpg www.oneindia.com}London, Feb 10: UK scientists have developed a surgical robot that makes hip operations extremely simple. Generally, surgeries that involve using chrome alloy to resurface the ball of the hip joint are extremely difficult and need years of experience to perfect. However, using the new technology for 'virtual' operations, even untrained students were able to achieve high levels of accuracy.

Researchers said that inexperienced surgeons often face a steep learning curve to gain the experience necessary to carry out hip resurfacing operations. Until now, this has only been gained through repeatedly performing the operations. This can cause problems because if hipbones are repaired incorrectly wear and tear occurs, requiring patients to undergo further painful and expensive corrective operations. In order to demonstrate how easy the new technology was to use, the researchers studied 32 medical students doing operations on a model of a hip joint. Developed by PhD students at Imperial College London, the Wayfinder is similar to GPS navigation systems; it senses the movement of the surgical tools and compares it to detailed images of the bones.

It therefore enables surgeons to see a 'real-time' virtual model of the progress of the operation. The robot then plots where surgical incisions should be made and calculates the correct angles for inserting chrome alloy parts needed to repair the hipbone. In the study, it was found that students were able to carry out the procedure three times more accurately compared to when they used traditionsl methods to manually navigate the joint.

Professor Justin Cobb, head of the Biosurgery and Surgical Technology Group at Imperial College London, told delegates at the British Society for Computer Aided Orthopaedic Surgery Conference in Glasgow that the technology rapidly turned untrained surgeons into experts.

"The reason for using students in the study was to show that even students, with the right technology, can achieve expert levels straight away," BBC quoted Cobb, as saying. "More importantly, we've also demonstrated that no patient has to be on an inexperienced surgeon's learning curve. "This could significantly improve a patient's health and wellbeing and ensure they do not have to undergo repeat operations," he added.

Stephen Cannon, president of the British Orthopaedic Association, said hip operation is one of the most difficult areas in orthopaedic surgery. He said the device holds promise for use in training and in the operating theatre. "Further research will be required to fully establish value to patients. The technology will need to be cost-effective if it is to be taken up by the NHS," he said.

Clinical trials of the device are presently being carried out at Warwick Hospital, Bath Hospital, Truro Hospital and the London Clinic.

ANI

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