American Family Children's Hospital

Robotic Assisted Surgery Now Offered for Total Hip Arthroplasty

UW Health hip replacement surgery: Robotic arm for surgeryRobotic arm-assisted partial knee replacements have been offered at UW Hospital and Clinics since 2010. Now the UW Joint Replacement Program is the only one in Wisconsin, and one of a select group of programs in the nation to use this technology for total hip arthroplasty (THA).


Although each year, nearly 400,000 people nationwide each year benefit from traditional hip replacement, some studies suggest that implant positioning - especially the acetabular cup - are outside the acceptable range in about 20 to 30 percent of cases.

Inaccurate placement of the implants used in hip replacements often results in early failure, revisions, hip dislocations and leg length discrepancies. These problems are common, real and avoidable in many cases with correct component positioning. With robotic-assisted THA technology, surgeons at UW Health have a more accurate way of performing hip replacements and can avoid these common complications.

This new system provides patient-specific three dimensional modeling for pre-surgical planning based on a pre-operative CT scan of the patient's hip. These digital images are subjected to computer analysis and the data is used to register where the hip implant components will go before the surgeon makes an incision.

During the procedure, surgeons use the robotic arm to shape the acetabulum and place the acetabular component. They also use computer guidance to determine exactly how to prepare the femur, which helps ensure an accurate hip reconstruction, avoiding leg length discrepancies and dislocations. When the bone preparation is complete, the surgeon uses the robotic arm to implant the cup, and the plastic liner is locked into the metal cup. The femoral stem is implanted and the correct ball size is attached to the stem to reconstruct leg length and soft tissue tension. Surgeons benefit from the combination of computer-assisted planning, robotic-assisted bone preparation and computer-guided implant positioning, resulting in improved accuracy of implant placement.

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Robotic-assisted surgery for the knee and hip is performed by John Heiner, MD, professor; Richard Illgen, MD, associate professor; and Matthew Squire, MD, assistant professor in the department of orthopedics and rehabilitation in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health orthopedic surgeons.

For more information visit or call (888)978-4611.