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J Knee Surg. 2018 Jan;31(1):17-21. doi: 10.1055/s-0037-1608809. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

The Learning Curve Associated with Robotic Total Knee Arthroplasty.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Instituto Universitario del Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ortho Rhode Island, Wakefield, Rhode Island.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.


As with most new surgical technologies, there is an associated learning curve with robotic-assisted total knee arthroplasty (TKA) before surgeons can expect ease of use to be similar to that of manual cases. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to (1) assess robotic-assisted versus manual operative times of two joint reconstructive surgeons separately as well as (2) find an overall learning curve. A total of 240 robotic-assisted TKAs performed by two board-certified surgeons were analyzed. The cases were sequentially grouped into 20 cases and a learning curve was created based on mean operative times. For each surgeon, mean operative times for their first 20 and last 20 robotic-assisted cases were compared with 20 randomly selected manual cases performed by that surgeon as controls prior to the initiation of the robotic-assisted cases. Each of the surgeons first 20 robotic assisted, last 20 robotic assisted, and 20 controls were then combined to create 3 cohorts of 40 cases for analysis. Surgeon 1: First and last robotic cohort operative times were 81 and 70 minutes (p < 0.05). Mean operative times for the first 20 robotic-assisted cases and manual cases were 81 versus 68 minutes (p < 0.05). Mean operative times for the last 20 robotic-assisted cases and manual cases were 70 versus 68 minutes (p > 0.05). Surgeon 2: First and last robotic cohort operative times were 117 and 98 minutes (p < 0.05). Mean operative times for the first 20 robotic-assisted cases and manual cases were 117 versus 95 (p < 0.05). Mean operative times for the last 20 robotic-cohort cases and manual cases were 98 versus 95 (p > 0.05). A similar trend occurred when the times of two surgeons were combined. The data from this study effectively create a learning curve for the use of robotic-assisted TKA. As both surgeons completed their total cases numbers within similar time frames, these data imply that within a few months, a board-certified orthopaedic joint arthroplasty surgeon should be able to adequately perform robotic TKA without adding any operative times.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: Dr. Mont is a consultant for, or has received institutional or research support from the following companies: Sage Products, TissueGene, OnGoing Care Solutions, DJO Global, Microport, Orthosensor, National Institutes of Health, Stryker, Johnson & Johnson, Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Merz, US Medical Innovations. He is on the editorial/governing board of the American Journal of Orthopedics, Journal of Arthroplasty, Journal of Knee Surgery, and Surgical Technology International. He is board or committee member of AAOS.

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