Faster joint surgery recovery with advanced robotic arm assisted system

08 March 2021

The pandemic has reduced access to elective care but since March 2020, private as well as NHS patients have undergone vital treatment, including cancer treatment, at the region’s largest private orthopaedic centre in the East of England.

Despite the pandemic, the hospital team has continued with its 2020/2021 plans to introduce new technologies. Last September the first group of patients underwent robotically assisted joint replacement surgery. The Stryker Mako® Robotic Arm assisted joint replacement surgery helps the surgeon deliver a higher degree of precision and accuracy during joint replacement surgery. This in turn preserves the surrounding bone and soft tissue leading to reduced post-operative pain, faster recovery time and shorter stay in hospital.

The surgeon

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Andrew Carrothers explains: “Medicine will move forward only if we are able to offer something better for patients and this is especially true for joint replacement surgery. No two hips or knees are the same and nor is one person’s arthritis comparable exactly to another. The Mako robot helps me achieve ‘bespoke implantation’ of accepted hip and knee implants. Traditional implants are considered the best because they are ‘tried and tested’ and have been implanted into multiple thousands of patients world-wide. The benefit of Mako assisted surgery to the patient is a precision hip or knee replacement, which often translates into faster recovery times, less pain and better outcomes for the new joints. The bespoke fitting is crucial because every hip and knee is unique.  

For patients having joint replacement surgery it is a huge personal decision and it is imperative the surgeon gets it as right as possible first time. Achieving the ultimate fit by ‘bespoke implantation’ is especially important with patients like Tony Chapman, who in his fifties, needs his hip to last longer than someone who is the more typical age for joint replacement surgery in their sixties or seventies.”

The patient

Tony Chapman, lives near Cambridge. He was one of the first patients to undergo a hip replacement by Mr Andrew Carrothers at the Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital. Mr Carrothers holds Stryker certification and trains other surgeons having performed hundreds of hip replacements and many using the robotic system.

Mr Chapman explains: “I developed arthritis of the hip and first consulted a doctor about a year ago. I used to run half marathons, complete weekly ParkRuns and cycle but it became too difficult and then the pain started to interfere with my sleep and I found my mobility was decreasing rapidly. By the start of 2020 I was walking with a stick. My job is predominantly deskbound but I work in agriculture with field visits and prior to 2020 it involved extensive European travel.

“Mr Carrothers was recommended by more than one person so that is why I chose him as my surgeon. When we met, he explained the robot to me and how it could help speed the recovery time as well as make the actual hip replacement fit better.

“The surgery was much easier than I feared it was going to be. Yes I was uncomfortable when I came round but I was back in my room less than three hours after leaving for theatre. The tough bit was having to be up, weight-bearing and walking within 24hrs though I did it, with the support of the physiotherapist.

“I was home three days later to continue the recovery. Though the pain was uncomfortable, the arthritic pain had disappeared. Four months on I can walk my dogs five miles a day and it’s getting easier day by day. It’s still some way off where I want it to be but progress is being made and I’ll continue with my physio. I’ve just started to cycle and managed 10 miles in the dark, mud and rain last night.”

Tony walking the dogs after his Mako hip replacement surgery

Hospital Director of Spire Cambridge Lea, Neil McCullough commented: “Before the pandemic hit, 220,0001 people underwent hip or knee surgery every year in the UK.  The Spire Cambridge Lea hospital carries out nearly 50%2 more hip procedures than any other private hospital in the region and we strive to help our patients return to the best they can be.

“It’s well known COVID-19 has prevented elective care and patients are waiting longer for surgery. The result is they are increasingly in pain and sadly less mobile. Lockdown and stress exacerbate the situation and we are seeing patients whose quality of life has substantially deteriorated. It’s important we continue to invest and innovate, enabling our world-class surgeons to treat their patients in the best facilities possible, to ensure their patients in turn receive the best care and outcome.”

The Mako robotic-arm

The advanced Mako robotic-arm assisted system is enabled for total knee, partial knee and total hip replacement procedures, and transforms the way joint replacement surgery is performed.

The Mako robotic-arm assisted system enables the hospital’s team of highly trained surgeons to create a patient-specific 3D plan unique to the individual, and perform joint replacement surgery with a high degree of precision and accuracy. The technology has been proven to preserve the patient’s bone and soft tissues resulting in reduced post-operative pain and faster recovery times.

Learn more about robot assisted joint replacement at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital



2 Comparing Spire Cambridge Lea three year hip data on the NJR with that of Nuffield Health Cambridge data on the NJR

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