Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) has become the first government facility to provide robotic knee and hip replacement surgery services to osteoarthritis patients.
Its joint replacement unit head, Dr G Kunalan, said the services have been available since July after receiving delivery of a Robotic Surgical Assistant (Rosa) from the United States.
He said Rosa, on a one-year loan to HKL, had enabled a total of 21 joint replacement surgeries to be performed so far, including four complex cases that required the expertise of a computer navigation system.
“With the use of this robot, the precision of implant placement in the correct spot can achieve up to 98% compared with about 94% through the conventional method.
“This at once reduces the pain experienced by patients after surgery and enables them to recover faster, in addition to making the implants last for a long time,” he said after the first joint robotic surgery workshop at the hospital today.
Kunalan said the use of the robot would also help surgeons to plan operations using the patient’s pre-surgery data from CT scans and X-rays so that the procedure could be performed more safely.
“As the robot is only on loan to HKL and the cost for each robot is between RM3 million and RM6.5 million, we hope the health ministry will consider getting these robots for use by specialists in the four hospitals that provide this sub-specialty service.
“The four hospitals are HKL, Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching, Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II in Kota Bharu (Kelantan), and Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah in Alor Setar (Kedah),” he said.
Meanwhile, the health ministry arthroplasty sub-specialty head Dr Yusof Ibrahim said the evolution of robotic joint replacement surgery has proven to reduce the need for revision surgery and manpower.
“Conventional surgical methods usually cause a high probability of revision surgery due to the inaccuracy of placing the implant in the correct place.
“In addition, the conventional method requires at least four specialists to be involved in the operation compared with only two or three if the robot is used,” he said.
Yusof said an estimated 10% of the adult population in Malaysia needed arthroplasty surgery due to a damaged knee or hip joint.
“However, for now, I feel our society still lacks awareness about this surgery because only 1-2% of such patients are willing to undergo this surgery compared with those in Singapore and Thailand.
“For example, Singapore conducts more than 100 such surgeries a week, whereas here, for example, in Kelantan, only 10 to 12 surgeries are carried out a week. So, the government’s support for the use of robotics is needed because it will be a plus point for the health ministry,” he added.