By far, Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci® robot is the most well-known robotic-assisted surgery system in the market. Intuitive Surgical, founded in 1995, received FDA approval for the first robotic system for general laparoscopic surgery in 2000. Since then, their da Vinci® surgical system has expanded to four generations and includes indications in cardiothoracic, urologic, gynecologic, and pediatric surgeries. An estimated 875,000+ da Vinci® surgeries were performed in 2017, and in 2019, Intuitive held about 17% of the robotic-assisted surgery system market.
On October 11, Medtronic announced they received CE Mark for Hugo RAS (robotic-assisted surgery) System for gynecological and urological procedures. It is estimated the FDA will make a decision for approval in the second half of 2022. Medtronic said they developed Hugo to “address the historical cost and utilization barriers that have stifled robotic surgery adoption for two decades.” In November 2020, Johnson & Johnson unveiled “Ottava,” their surgical robotic platform said to have six arms, a “zero-footprint design” to enable patient access, increase space in the operating room, and improve workflow. And more recently, on October 19, JNJ disclosed a two-year delay in the platform’s development timeline due to multiple factors.
With the rise of robots, you may ask yourself, where do medical device companies like Boehringer Labs fit?
When our team starts looking into new developments, our goal is to address the critical clinical needs of surgeons and design for how that procedure will look in 3-5 years. While these robotic-assisted surgery systems solve many surgical challenges, there still exists a need for devices that complement robotic capabilities. For example, while the robot offers a platform for a surgical indication, many clinical challenges can be technique-specific, thus requiring a particular device for the job. As another example, when moving from laparoscopic to robotic techniques, the workflow of the OR changes. While stock robotic instrumentation can accommodate 95% of surgeons’ needs, there is still a 5% gap to be addressed. These gaps are where Boehringer steps in.
Robotic surgery has created and continues to create surgical opportunities that were not possible with conventional laparoscopic instrumentation. Boehringer Laboratories welcomes the growing popularity of robotic-assisted surgical systems and will continue to offer clinician-focused solutions to new challenges for many years to come.
 Perez, Rafael E., AU – Schwaitzberg, Steven D. “Robotic surgery: finding value in 2019 and beyond.” Annals of Laparoscopic and Endoscopic Surgery; Vol 4 (May 2019)
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