Surgical Robotics Continue Rapid Expansion in 2022
2022 saw players in the space expanding indications and access, all while forging new partnerships.
Both major and smaller players in surgical robotics jockeyed for market share in 2022 by expanding indications and providing greater access and flexibility, either alone or by forging partnerships.
In February, Medtronic announced that a Belgium surgeon had performed the first clinical procedure in Europe using the company’s Hugo robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) system: a robotic prostatectomy.
Three months later, Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson MedTech company, announced that its Auris Health subsidiary won FDA clearance for its robotic-assisted Monarch platform for endourological procedures. Ethicon noted the clearance makes Monarch the first and only multispecialty, flexible robotic solution for use in both bronchoscopy and urology.
Partially fueling the momentum in the RAS field is Israel-based Memic Innovative Surgery changing its name to Momentis Surgical in May. According to company CEO Dvir Cohen, the rebranding “represents the movement and momentum of our instrumentation and articulation, bringing the shoulder, elbow, and wrist to life. And that would really allow the surgeon to reach regions that are non-feasible to date.”
In August, MicroPort Navibot announced it received FDA clearance for a robotically assisted total knee replacement solution with its SkyWalker system. This is the company’s first robot-assisted platform for orthopedic applications, which has the capability of equipping surgeons with information to help achieve the desired joint line reconstruction during a patient’s surgery, while also providing data to optimally balance soft tissues.
Meanwhile, Titan Medical and Medtronic announced in September a limited development program, building on the successful completion of the June 2020 development and license agreement between the two companies. The definitive agreement includes a preclinical collaboration to evaluate the performance of various instruments and cameras in gynecological procedures.
“We view the activities associated with this definitive agreement as additional methods of enhancing our know-how in single-access RAS technology and further benefitting our own Enos RAS platform,” said Cary Vance, president and CEO of Titan.
Also in September, Virtuoso Surgical announced it was pursuing a “[Fourth] lane on the surgical robotics highway,” bolstered by a $20 million stock offering. This new lane of rigid endoscopy will complement the three existing lanes of multi-port, single-port, and flexible laparoscopy.
The footprint of the pervasive da Vinci SP platform from Intuitive Surgical could potentially expand even further with September’s announced clearance by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) for the system’s use in general surgeries, thoracic surgeries (excluding cardiac procedures and intercostal approaches), urologic surgeries, gynecological surgeries, and transoral head and neck surgeries. “Japan is a fantastic healthcare market,” said Intuitive’s CEO, Gary Guthart. The country has “well-trained surgeons, and they have extremely high expectations.”
In October, the Sunnyvale, CA-based company reported that 3Q22 revenue increased 11% compared to 3Q21. The higher third quarter revenue was driven by growth in da Vinci procedure volume, partially offset by a decline in system placements, and that supply chain challenges were subsiding.
Not to be upstaged, Medtronic announced in October three significant regulatory milestones for Hugo in Europe, North America, and Asia: CE mark clearance to market Hugo for general surgery in Europe; a Health Canada license for general laparoscopic surgery; and MHLW approval for urologic surgical and gynecologic laparoscopic indications in Japan. Medtronic noted that general surgery is the fastest growing segment within robotic surgery and that Japan is the third-largest robotic surgery market in the world today.
Think Surgical of Freemont, CA, also announced in October that it raised $100 million from KDB Investment Global Healthcare of Korea to accelerate the commercial launch of several new products across multiple robotic systems in orthopedics, plus a choice of implants from different manufacturers.
Finally, Vicarious Surgical will showcase its surgical robotic system at an upcoming investor and analyst event in December. The platform combines human-like arms with virtual reality technology for minimally invasive abdominal surgery.