Robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery: nothing more than just a marketing scam?

Hot off the heels of the Conformis custom-made knee replacement prosthesis being shown in the latest National Joint Register to have the best results ever recorded for 10-year prosthetic survivorship figures…

… further research demonstrates that bog-standard off-the-shelf knee replacement prostheses implanted by robot-assisted surgery gives no improvement in patient outcomes, in terms of clinical scores.

In this study by researchers in Turkey, the surgeons compared the outcomes of 70 patients undergoing robot-assisted knee replacement surgery to 46 patients undergoing standard ‘manual’ surgery. They looked at the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS), the Oxford score, a Visual Analog Scale pain and satisfaction score, and the Forgotten Joint Score. What the researchers found at 2-year follow-up was no difference whatsoever in any of the above outcomes. CLICK HERE to read more.

i.e. Further evidence that robot-assisted knee replacement surgery is nothing more than a very expensive marketing scam!

This fits in with the most recent data from The American Joint Replacement Register, which shows that robotic knee replacement does not give any improvement in the common causes of early revision surgery, such as malalignment, malposition, stiffness, pain or instability: CLICK HERE to read more.

In fairness, computer navigated surgery and robot-assisted knee replacement surgery have been shown to give better alignment of a knee prosthesis when viewed with X-rays (i.e. it helps a surgeon put the prosthesis in straighter). However, this seems to be irrelevant in terms of what actually matters to the patient, which is clinical outcomes, in terms of patient satisfaction rates, function and long-term prosthetic survivorship figures.

Furthermore, when a Conformis custom-made knee replacement is performed, 3D-printed custom-made patient-specific cutting blocks are manufactured for each individual patient, so that the bone cuts are made as close to perfect as possible, and research has shown that this gives prosthetic alignment that is equally as accurate as computer navigated or robot-assisted knees. The advantage of the Conformis knee, however, is that the prosthesis itself is custom-made, meaning that it fits pretty much perfectly to each individual patient’s knee, every time, no matter what the size, shape or contours of that patient’s knee might be. With robot-assisted knee replacements, on the other hand, the prosthesis may be put in accurately… but the prosthesis itself is a standard off-the-shelf prothesis that may or may not match the natural native geometry of the patient’s own degree, and hence there is far less of a guarantee that the patient well end up with a knee that feels ‘right’ to them. This is why patient satisfaction rates with a custom-made Conformis knee have been shown to be 90 to 95%, compared to just 80 to 85% for a standard off-the-shelf knee (which includes those knees used for robot-assisted knee replacement surgery).

Conformis custom-made knees: designed to fit each individual patient’s knee perfectly.

The above is not really ‘news’, because large long-term studies have already shown us quite clearly that robotic knee replacement surgery is pointless. Indeed, in a massive study from South Korea, where the researchers compared outcomes from 700 robotic-assisted knee replacements to 700 standard knee replacements, with a 10-year follow-up, the authors found no differences between robotic-assisted knee replacement and conventional knee replacement surgery in terms of functional outcome scores, aseptic loosening, overall survivorship and complications. The authors concluded that “Considering the additional time and expense associated with robotic-assisted TKA, we cannot recommend its widespread use.”  CLICK HERE to read more.

So, what, in our opinion (an opinion that is strongly supported by the published scientific evidence) is the best type of knee replacement to have if you need knee replacement surgery:

a Conformis custom-made knee!

  • CLICK HERE to read more about Conformis knees having the lowest 10-year revision rate of any prosthesis on the market
  • CLICK HERE to find out more about Conformis knees




4 December 2023