Vancouver-based Rebound Orthopedics & Neurosurgery has received a $265,000 grant to explore whether robotic procedures are more effective in knee replacements and resurfacing than traditional manual methods.
The three-year grant comes from MAKOplasty, Rebound's vendor for robotic knee replacement equipment and is intended to prove what now is only anecdotal: that robotic surgical procedures produce better outcomes than traditional methods. Those include a smaller incision, less blood and scarring, less impact to bone and tissue, a quicker recovery and a reduced hospital stay, said Michelle Braunsten, Rebound's marketing director.
"For now, it's anecdotal," Braunsten said.
The grant money will pay for two research studies. The first study, over a period of 10 years, will compare health outcomes of robotic-assisted partial knee resurfacing with a manual total knee replacement. A second study will examine over a three-year period the costs of robotic-assisted surgery versus the traditional kind.
In robotic-assisted knee resurfacing and replacement, a surgeon uses 3-D imagining of the patient's knee to program a surgery on an interactive robotic arm. During the procedure, the surgeon guides the robot and receives feedback on positioning as the robotic arm carves off damaged parts of the knee, according to the MAKOplasty website.
About 150 patients are expected to participate in the research. They don't get to choose which kind of procedure they receive, Braunsten said. Few patients are eligible for the robotic procedure because they have to be in the early stages of knee degeneration. Most patients don't go to see a doctor until their knee pain is so advanced that replacement is needed, she said.
Nearly 5 percent of the U.S. population 50 and older has had a total knee replacements in at least one knee, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Being overweight, degenerative disease and routine exercise all can increase the risk of needing a knee replacement.
"The percentage of people needing knee replacement keeps climbing," Braunsten said. "That's part of why studies like this are so important. With the rising cost of health care, a shorter recovery time and hospital stay can make a difference."
Rebound has three locations in Vancouver, including PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, Legacy Salmon Creek and East Vancouver, and one location in Portland.