New robotic arm at Kolling Institute to perform joint replacement surgery in Australia


A new robotic arm at te Kolling Institute, a joint venture between the Northern Sydney Local Health District and the University of Sydney, is considered to improve hip and knee replacements in Australia.


Named KOBRA (Kolling Orthopedic Biomechanics Robotic Arm), the orthopedic biomechanics robot is one of only two robots in the country which is based on simVitro – a hardware-neutral articulation testing system released from the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

The robot simulates complex human movements on the joints to provide researchers with a “clearer picture” of how the joints will behave in various situations, explained Elizabeth Clarke, associate professor at the University of Sydney and director of the laboratory of biomechanics Murray Maxwell of the Kolling Institute.

It can test complex movements and activities that involve compression and twisting like hip flexion, squatting, walking and throwing.

The development of KOBRA has been supported by the NSW Investment Boosting Business Innovation program and the Royal North Shore Hospital Staff Specialist Trust Fund.


According to a press release, KOBRA should be used to test implants, especially for hip and knee replacements, to assess how well the implants work. It will also be used to help validate computer models that help surgeons place implants. Additionally, the robot will likely be used to help surgeons working to repair chronic shoulder instability.

Additionally, researchers seek to apply the information and data provided by KOBRA across disciplines, expanding research capabilities and leading to new surgical techniques.


Just last year, Smith+Nephew, a British medical technology company, has launched its wearable robotics solution for unicompartmental and total knee replacement surgeries in Australia and New Zealand. The US FDA approved CORI Surgical System would be ideal for ambulatory surgery centers and outpatient surgery.


“It is a very exciting time for musculoskeletal research and surgery and it is extremely encouraging to see this cutting-edge technology coming to the Kolling Institute. It will help researchers, engineers and surgeons and ultimately lead to improved surgical techniques, better physical function and good long-term health outcomes for our community,” commented Bill Walter, Professor of Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery at the University of Sydney and Orthopedic Surgeon at Royal North Shore Hospital.


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