Medtronic finally unveils its new robot-assisted surgery system

Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) claims it has a new robot-assisted surgery platform that is more flexible and cost-effective […]

Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) claims it has a new robot-assisted surgery platform that is more flexible and cost-effective than systems presently on the market.
That appeared to be the message out today from the world’s largest medical device company as it unveiled its much-awaited robot-assisted surgery system. The system is Medtronic’s answer to a growing market that remains dominated by Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG) and its da Vinci SP.
During an investor update held today in Hartford, Conn., Medtronic EVP Bob White repeatedly claimed that only 2% of surgeries around the world are held with the assistance of robots.
“There’s 98% out there that needs to be done via robotically-assisted surgery but not today because of the cost and utilization burdens,” said White, who is president of the Medtronic’s Minimally Invasive Therapies Group.
Medtronic plans to launch the system in undisclosed places outside the U.S. early the next year, allowing the company to start gathering clinical data, White said. CE Mark and U.S. IDE submissions will follow later in the year, with a goal of achieving U.S. 510(k) clearance in about two years.
The system includes a tower, surgeon console, surgical end effectors, and robotic arm carts.
Key aspects of the system include:

  • Modularity — The arms and other parts of the system are modular — and they’re on wheels — allowing for flexibility when it comes to placement and swapping around parts of the system. A surgeon could complete a procedure with an arm, push it out of the way, and start a laparoscopic procedure, for example. After the surgery, hospital staff could undrape the system and roll it into a second sterilized and prepped OR so that the surgeon could quickly start a new surgery after a break. Because the arms are modular, a hospital could split up the arms for use in different procedures at the same time.
  • Universal use — The tower and its visualization system, generator, processors and endoscope are meant to support both robot-assisted surgery and laparoscopic applications, and even open surgery. The endoscope, for example, is a standard length. The generator can power not only the robotic system but also laparoscopic and open surgery devices.
  • Upgradeable — Medtronic designed the system so that health providers can swap in new systems, generators, etc. as they become available, without having to buy an entirely new system. The company also has a pipeline of software applications and features that it will continually roll out.
  • An open console — The surgical console design boasts an open architecture so that surgeons can still interact with the patient and OR staff during procedures. At the same time, three-dimensional, high-definition glasses provide an immersive situation.
  • Drawing on existing surgical tool expertise — Medtronic is taking advantage of the expertise, know-how, and IP from its existing surgical instrumentation portfolio, which makes sense because the system’s instruments could be a big revenue source for the company. Doctors consulting for the company said today that they also like that the surgical tools are familiar.

Medtronic is already active in the robot-assisted spine surgery space after its  $1.7 billion purchase of Mazor Robotics in December 2018. A month later, Medtronic launched its Mazor X Stealth robotic-assisted spinal surgical platform in the U.S.
Initial story based on a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing before the investor update. Updated during the event. 
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