Robotic versus conventional total knee replacement: 2 doctors' opinions

Claire Wallace -  

While conventional knee replacement options have been proven for decades with over 600,000 procedures performed successfully every year, robotic knee replacements are gaining popularity among the orthopedic surgery community. 

Bradley Boyd, DO, Randall Peyton, MD, both fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons, spoke to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons on the pros and cons of both. 

Dr. Boyd performs knee replacements exclusively with robotic arms and has done so for 10 years, while Dr. Peyton performed conventional replacements for 20 years before switching to robotic replacements in the last year, according to the April AAOS Now report. 

While Dr. Boyd thinks the robot is more efficient, giving patients better results, Dr. Peyton prefers traditional methods and has seen no difference in outcomes from his patients with robotic-assisted surgery. 

"While I have used robotic-assisted surgery in the past, I have not found that it gives my patients improved results. Instead, the computer results in increased time in the OR, and if the computer fails, there is no bail-out option," Dr. Peyton told AAOS Now. 

Dr. Boyd admits that with the robotic procedures, there is a strong learning curve, but he said the time it takes to learn is worth it. 

Dr. Peyton, on the other hand, sees no advantages to robotic procedures. 

While Dr. Peyton said that downsides of robotic procedures include infections, longer procedure time and general tech malfunctions, Dr. Boyd said he has never seen a malfunction. 

Dr. Boyd does admit there are added costs with robotic surgeries, both for patients and providers. 

"I think we are only in the infancy of the influence of computer and robotic technology in our field, but I feel strongly that robotic technology will have a growing impact on our profession," Dr. Boyd told AAOS Now. 

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