A Review of Surgical Robotics: Current Perspective and Key Players

Surgical Robotics

Since the advent of the arthrobot, which was used in an operation by Canadian physicians in 1983, surgical robotics technology has developed very fast and nowadays these versatile machines are used in a wide range of procedures from the minor ones to the sensitive and major ones. 

Today various surgical robots, though without the capability to walk, talk and act autonomously, are being employed in the operation rooms and thanks to their capability for skillful maneuvering, they are being employed in a more diverse range of medical procedures.

What surgical robots do exactly?

Surgical robots were invented to overcome the barriers and limitations of the operations which were normally performed by human surgeons. In the robotic-assisted surgeries, a programmable machine is equipped with state-of-the-art cameras that take real time images from the surgical site and then transfer the images into a vision cart for the careful and detailed investigation by surgeons. In the next stage, the surgical robot will create a small incision in the targeted area of the patient’s body for straightforward procedures. The robotic surgeries have various advantages over the traditional ones including but not limited to smaller incision size and as a result lower risk of bleeding and infection, greater accuracy, higher precision and shorter recovery time, more control and more flexibility. 

As an example in a traditional open heart surgery, the surgeon must make a quite big incision on the patient’s chest and then open through the ribs to reach to the heart, but in a robotic surgery, just a small incision will be made on the body to the extent that the camera and the robotic part can enter into the body and after taking a few hi-resolution images, the robotic arm will start the operation either assisting the surgeon or initiating it completely autonomous. 

Surgical Robotics

One of the renowned surgical robots is called Da Vinci which was approved by FDA in 2000 and it was named after the late Italian painter and scientist Leonardo Da Vinci’s studies of human anatomy. Just in 2012 more than 200000 surgical operations were undertaken by Da Vinci robotic systems mostly to remove prostate or hysterectomies and now it is even used for gynecologic and cardiac valve repairment. According to the reports, so far more than 5 thousand Da Vinci surgical systems have been employed in the hospitals throughout the world- a system which costs $2 million and its maintenance which charge medical centers  $180000 yearly. 

Da Vinci is not the only surgical robot out there and there are other similar systems, each with their own unique capabilities. 

Famous Surgical Robotics Companies

Today robotic surgery is among the trending topics and there are major names that have established a niche in this market. Following you can find a list of pioneering companies in the surgical robotics space.

Da Vinci Surgical system

Intuitive Surgical

Intuitive Surgical is the NO. 1 robotic surgery company in the world headquartered in Sunnyvale, California and the manufacturer of the famed Da Vinci system. The company is listed in S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 and has big investors including Morgan Stanley in its portfolio and in 2020 it was one of the best medtech companies in terms of financial performance. 

Medtronic

Medtronic which was established 1949 is an American-Irish medical company and the producer of Hugo RAS system- a powerful rival for the Da Vinci robotic system-  which is a robotic assistance platform mounted on wheels with modular parts and arms that can move around freely and according to its manufacturer health providers can upgrade it easily without any need to break the bank.

Johnson & Johnson 

Johnson & Johnson is one of the renowned medical companies in the world which was established in 1886 in the US. Last year the company unveiled a new surgical robotic system called ottava which has not yet been verified and is going to be tested in clinical settings in 2022. The system has 6 moving arms that can be attached to the surgical table and adapt itself to the surgeon workflow. 

Stryker

Stryker is the company that made the $1.65 billion acquisition of Mako, the manufacturer of Rio Robotic Arm in 2013. The Robotic arm which since then became known as Mako system is in fact, a platform for orthopedic surgery and so far has been employed in the operational procedures of various types including partial knee arthroplasty and total hip arthroplasty.

Accuracy

Accuracy is the third leading company in surgical robotics with its well-known product called Cyberknife robotic radiosurgery system which has been built due to its partnership with another robotic company named Kuka AG. The system that has been approved by the FDA detects the position of cancerous tumors in the patients’ bodies and then bombard the tissue with high-energy radiation with an accuracy lower than a millimeter.

Siemens Healthineers

In 2019, Siemens Healtineers acquired a robotic company named Corindus Vascular Robotics which was the manufacturer of CorPath GRX vascular robotic system. The system which is capable of telerobotic surgery once was the star of a documentary named “The speed of Thought” that has been made about the 5G network. Last December the company added new automatic movements for accomplishing complex tasks including measuring the anatomy for selecting the size of the devices and tools and crossing lesions. 

Article By: Maryam Mousavi

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