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Robot hip surgeons: new trial to test performance against humans

  • Recruitment begins for new study jointly run by University of Warwick, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) in Birmingham

  • RACER-Hip is a world-first robotic hip replacement surgery study funded with £1 million from the National Institute for Health and Care Research

  • Will help determine whether use of robots in hip surgery results in better outcomes for patients

  • Run in tandem with RACER-Knee trial, which is investigating use of robots in knee replacement surgery

Robots will have their surgical skills put to the test as researchers trial their use in hip replacement surgery for the first time.

Pitting them against their human counterparts, the aim is to determine whether using robots results in better outcomes from hip replacement surgery. Hip replacement surgery is one of the most common operations performed by the NHS.

The world-first RACER-Hip Study has received £1 million funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and, alongside the existing RACER-Knee study announced last year, will give new insight into the value of robotic assisted surgery in the NHS. It will be run jointly between Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) in Birmingham.

Robotic assisted hip and knee replacement surgery has increased rapidly over the last three years, particularly in the USA. Robotic systems are being introduced into the NHS and presented to the public as innovative best practice. However, there is currently little evidence to show that these systems are better than conventional surgery.

In robotic assisted hip replacement surgery, a robotic arm prepares the bone and inserts the components to a pre-programmed three-dimensional plan. It is thought using a robot to perform the surgery allows more precise, consistent surgical techniques and this may help to reduce variation and prevent poor outcomes and complications that can require redo surgery.

The study is being led by two surgeons, Mr Peter Wall, from the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Birmingham and Warwick Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Warwick, and Professor Ed Davis, from the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Birmingham.

Mr Wall said: “The RACER-Hip study is a significant investment by the NHS to examine the effectiveness of robotic hip replacement surgery.”

“Robotic technology has the potential to revolutionise hip replacement surgery, however the first step to this is understanding whether it can help enhance the care surgeons provide.”

“We are really excited that some centres such as Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have been provided with a robot specifically to take part in this research.”

Professor Davis added: “The research will help orthopaedic surgeons across the world to better understand the most effective tools for performing hip replacement surgery and ensure the very best outcomes for their patients.

“This study will also include an in-depth health economic analysis to inform the NHS if this technology should be widely adopted.”

Equal numbers of participants will be randomised to each treatment group to find out which surgical technique results in better outcomes. This will include asking questions about people’s ability to complete activities and their quality of life in the long-term and will also find out which method provides the best value for the NHS.

The team will invite patients from at least six NHS hospitals across England and Scotland to take part over the coming months. The first site has opened at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, while the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has just taken delivery of one of the robots for the trial, the first time this service will be available within the NHS for hip operations in the Northeast of England. The manufacturer of the robot, Stryker, will be supporting the study costs to ensure hospitals do not have to pay extra to take part.

RACER-Hip joins the RACER-Knee study which began recruitment 12 months ago and is helping answer the same questions for knee replacement surgery. The RACER studies represent a substantial investment of over £3 million by the NHS to help establish the effectiveness of robotic joint replacement surgery. Leading professional bodies including the Royal College of Surgeons, British Hip Society and British Association of Knee Surgery all recognise the importance of and support the research initiative which will see the UK lead the way in research in robotic joint replacement surgery.


Notes to editors:

  • The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest specialist orthopaedic units in Europe, offering planned orthopaedic surgery to people locally, nationally, and internationally.

  • The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital achieved 'Disability Confident Leader' status in April 2022.

  • In 2021 the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital was ranked in the top 50 inclusive UK employers, and the most inclusive NHS employer in the UK.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)

The mission of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:

● Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;

● Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;

● Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;

● Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;

● Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;

● Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.

For more information, contact the NIHR press office on 020 4576 0660 or email

8 July 2022

University of Warwick press office contact:

Peter Thorley

Media Relations Manager (Warwick Medical School and Department of Physics) | Press & Media Relations | University of Warwick

Tel: +44 (0) 2476 151512

Mob: +44 (0) 7824 540863

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital press office contact:

For more information, images or interview requests please contact Stephanie Jenkins, Senior Communications Officer at