Hexham General Hospital is to take part in a trial which will involve surgical robots being used for hip replacement procedures. 

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is taking part in the RACER-Hip Study, and has installed the Mako robot at Hexham General Hospital. Its arrival marks the first time this service is available on the NHS for hip operations in the north east.

Tim Petheram, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “The Mako robot aims to increase the accuracy of the hip replacements that we carry out, as they can be positioned to within a millimetre and a degree.

“For patients, we hope that this means that they feel better with their hip replacements and that they will last longer and have fewer complications or issues.

“We’re confident that it is safe and installs the replacements more accurately than the human equivalent, but what we don’t know is the effect it has on patient outcomes so the study will track progress at regular intervals up to 10 years after their operation.”

The trial will involve equal numbers of patients being randomly selected for either a hip replacement with a robot or a human surgeon. By exploring patients’ quality of life and their ability to complete activities post-surgery it hopes to determine which surgical method offers the best value to the NHS.

The Mako robot has been used in the north east at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Freeman Hospital – where it is used to perform knee replacement surgery.

The robot at Hexham is the third robot to take up residence within Northumbria Healthcare. It has also invested £3.7m in two DaVinci Xi robots – one at North Tyneside General Hospital and the other at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.

The trial has received £1million in funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research, and combined with the RACER-Knee Study announced in 2021 will deliver insights into the value of robotic-assisted surgery. Stryker, the robot manufacturer is supporting the study costs. In total the RACER studies have received investment of more than £3million.

The RACER-Hip Study which Hexham is taking part in is being jointly led by Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.