Adoption of Robotic vs Fluoroscopic Guidance in Total Hip Arthroplasty: Is Acetabular Positioning Improved in the Learning Curve?

Eli Kamara, Jonathon Robinson, Marcel A Bas, Jose A Rodriguez, Matthew S Hepinstall
Journal of Arthroplasty 2017, 32 (1): 125-130

BACKGROUND: Acetabulum positioning affects dislocation rates, component impingement, bearing surface wear rates, and need for revision surgery. Novel techniques purport to improve the accuracy and precision of acetabular component position, but may have a significant learning curve. Our aim was to assess whether adopting robotic or fluoroscopic techniques improve acetabulum positioning compared to manual total hip arthroplasty (THA) during the learning curve.

METHODS: Three types of THAs were compared in this retrospective cohort: (1) the first 100 fluoroscopically guided direct anterior THAs (fluoroscopic anterior [FA]) done by a surgeon learning the anterior approach, (2) the first 100 robotic-assisted posterior THAs done by a surgeon learning robotic-assisted surgery (robotic posterior [RP]), and (3) the last 100 manual posterior (MP) THAs done by each surgeon (200 THAs) before adoption of novel techniques. Component position was measured on plain radiographs. Radiographic measurements were taken by 2 blinded observers. The percentage of hips within the surgeons' "target zone" (inclination, 30°-50°; anteversion, 10°-30°) was calculated, along with the percentage within the "safe zone" of Lewinnek (inclination, 30°-50°; anteversion, 5°-25°) and Callanan (inclination, 30°-45°; anteversion, 5°-25°). Relative risk (RR) and absolute risk reduction (ARR) were calculated. Variances (square of the standard deviations) were used to describe the variability of cup position.

RESULTS: Seventy-six percentage of MP THAs were within the surgeons' target zone compared with 84% of FA THAs and 97% of RP THAs. This difference was statistically significant, associated with a RR reduction of 87% (RR, 0.13 [0.04-0.40]; P < .01; ARR, 21%; number needed to treat, 5) for RP compared to MP THAs. Compared to FA THAs, RP THAs were associated with a RR reduction of 81% (RR, 0.19 [0.06-0.62]; P < .01; ARR, 13%; number needed to treat, 8). Variances were lower for acetabulum inclination and anteversion in RP THAs (14.0 and 19.5) as compared to the MP (37.5 and 56.3) and FA (24.5 and 54.6) groups. These differences were statistically significant (P < .01).

CONCLUSION: Adoption of robotic techniques delivers significant and immediate improvement in the precision of acetabular component positioning during the learning curve. While fluoroscopy has been shown to be beneficial with experience, a learning curve exists before precision improves significantly.

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