CT knee scanAn Edinburgh hospital has become the first in Scotland to introduce widespread use of ‘robot technology’ that will transform the way hip and knee replacement operations are carried out.

The robot, which costs almost £1m, will allow surgeons to carry out ‘tailor-made’ hip and knee replacement surgery at Spire Murrayfield Hospital.

Surgeons have predicted that the Stryker Mako Robotic Arm will improve patient outcomes – reducing the time spent in hospital while speeding up overall recovery times.

Mr James Patton, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Spire Murrayfield, said: “This really moves us right to the cutting edge of knee and hip surgery. Not only does this mean I can personalise every operation to suit each patient – it also allows me to make alterations mid-operation that just couldn’t be made using previous surgical methods.”

Mr Patton, who has trained on the Stryker Mako in both Australia and Germany, said the robot would have a major effect on partial knee replacements which he predicts could reduce dramatically the amount of total replacements needed.

“Strangely enough, a partial replacement requires a lot more precision and is a technically more difficult operation to perform so, in many cases, it is decided that the patient will actually get a better outcome from a full replacement,” he said.

A partial knee replacement is a treatment option designed to relieve the pain caused by joint degeneration due to osteoarthritis that has not yet progressed to all three compartments of the knee.

With the Stryker Mako robot a 3D image of the injured part of the knee is taken and matched to an implant of the exact dimensions needed for that particular patient.

“But a perfectly-constructed implant needs to be perfectly placed if it is going to have the best effects,” explained Mr Patton. “It is here where the robot technology comes into its own. The cuts made by the robot to remove the damaged section are much more accurate and precise than those made manually even by the most skilled surgeons.

“We will be creating an exact imprint for the exactly-measured implant to go. Even if minor adjustments to alignment and positioning need to be made during the operation the robot allows the surgeon to do that.”

It is also thought that the robot could mean patients receiving partial replacement surgery could leave hospital on the same day as they have the operation.

Mr Patton added, “This is a technology I would be happy to have myself, whereas traditional knee replacement is something I’d think very had about.”

Mr Ken Hay, Hospital Director at the Spire Murrayfield on Corstorphine Road, said: “We are proud to be the first private hospital in Scotland to use this innovative technology. It is part of our continuing commitment to providing our community and the people of Scotland with outstanding healthcare services.”

The ScotRail Alliance is advising customers that services in the central belt on 12 and 13 May are expected to be very busy due to a number of special events taking place.

Friday 12 May

• Take That, SSE Hydro

• European rugby Challenge Cup final, BT Murrayfield

Saturday 13 May

• Take That, SSE Hydro

• European rugby Champions Cup final, BT Murrayfield

Services during the evening rush on Friday towards both Edinburgh and Glasgow will be much busier than normal. Fans are being encouraged to consider earlier trains to Edinburgh and Glasgow, or consider alternative routes via Bathgate, Shotts or Carstairs.

On Saturday 13 May, services towards Edinburgh and Glasgow are expected to get busier as the day progresses. Extra carriages will be added to trains all day on the Edinburgh – Falkirk High – Glasgow route, as well as on key services between Helensburgh, Milngavie and Edinburgh, and select services linking Glenrothes, Edinburgh, and Tweedbank.

Queuing systems will be in place on both days at Exhibition Centre and Haymarket. As with most special event trains, alcohol bans will be in place.

For service information, customers can use the ScotRail app or head to scotrail.co.uk

A ScotRail Alliance spokesperson said: “There’s no doubt that trains are going to be very busy this Friday and Saturday. Please plan your journeys in advance, and consider taking an alternative route where possible to avoid the crowds.

“Please follow the instructions of staff to ensure that things go smoothly.”

The ScotRail Alliance is advising rugby fans heading by train to Murrayfield for the European Rugby Champions Cup Final on 13 May to plan their journey in advance.

To help ensure everyone gets to the game on time, passengers should allow extra time for travel – as well as purchasing tickets in advance. ScotRail will be adding carriages to services all day between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street, and on key services to Tweedbank, Glenrothes, Helensburgh and Milngavie.

Customers should be aware queuing systems will be in place at Haymarket station after the match, and that the last trains of the night are expected to be busy. Where possible, fans should plan to catch an earlier train to avoid disappointment.

A ScotRail Alliance spokesperson said: “It’s going to be a big weekend of rugby in the capital.
“We’ll be using every train at our disposal to add extra carriages to services towards Edinburgh, however, trains are expected to be very busy.

“Make sure to check your train times on our website or app and leave plenty of time for travel. Buying tickets in advance will also help reduce your queuing time.”

ScotRail will have extra staff on the ground to assist fans, and as with most large events alcohol bans will be in place.