Assistive technologies in knee arthroplasty: fashion or evolution? Rate of publications and national registries prove the Scott Parabola wrong.

  • Batailler Cécile
  • Parratte Sébastien

  • Knee arthroplasty
  • Scott parabola
  • Robotic surgery
  • Computer-assisted system
  • Assistive technologies


PURPOSE: Most opponents of assistive technologies in orthopedic surgery consider them as a marketing ruse or fashion. Our hypothesis was that many innovations in modern knee arthroplasty are not following the Scott Parabola. This parabola represents the visual curve of a procedure or therapy showing great promise at the beginning, becoming the standard treatment after reports of encouraging results, only to fall into disuse due to adverse outcome reports. This study aimed to assess the interest in these assistive technologies by (1) their number of publications/year and (2) their actual surgical use reported in the National Joint Registries. METHODS: The search was performed through PubMed, EMBASE, and MEDLINE databases from 1997 to 2021 inclusive to identify all available literature that described the use and results of assistive technologies or new surgical techniques in knee arthroplasty. In the Australian and Norwegian registries, the number of cases performed with these techniques in knee arthroplasty has been quantified year by year. RESULTS: Following the initial online search, a total of 4085 articles was found. After the assessment mentioned above, 2106 articles were included in the study. The orthopedic techniques assessed in this study are not following the "Scott's parabola" in the literature. Computer-assisted knee arthroplasty and patient-specific instrumentation have increased quickly to have reached a plateau, with a stable number of publications over the last 6 years. The number of publications concerning robotic surgery, accelerometers and sensors continue to rise. In the Australian registry, the proportion of primary TKA performed by computer-assisted systems increased from 2.4% in 2003 to 32% in 2019. In the Norwegian registry, the proportion of computer-assisted TKA remained between 8 and 12% of primary TKA since 2007. CONCLUSION: Most of the innovations in modern knee arthroplasty are not following the Scott Parabola. After a fast rise, these techniques do not disappear but continue to evolve. Their evolution is synergistic, and techniques appeared to be linked to each other's. Despite persisting concerns about the cost-efficiency of assisting technologies in knee arthroplasties, the interest and use do not decrease and seems to be directly linked to an exponential increase in interest for a better understanding of alignment targets and improved functional recovery.