a robot behind the scenes of surgery

Robotic procedure volumes are rising fast in the US and in the rest of the world, especially in the field of urology, gynecology and general surgery. However, despite the enormous growth and the profit potential of this market, Intuitive Surgical remains the only player in this space. There are nearly 3,600 da Vinci systems installed at surgery centers worldwide, and sales of systems and the consumables associated with them totaled about $2.7 billion in 2015.

There are several entrants who are trying to enter the lucrative robotics market. Titan Medical is one such player. Its SPORT Surgical System is being designed to expand robotic surgery into areas that are underserviced by Intuitive Surgical including in a cheaper, cost effective manner.

TransEnterix also wants to enter the US with its SurgiBot robotic surgery system. It is easier to move between operating rooms unlike the Da Vinci and therefore allows surgeons to perform surgeries from the patient’s bedside rather than from behind a console.

Finally, Johnson and Johnson also recently announced a partnership with Google to create a next-generation robotic-assisted surgical platform. This will also have a smaller footprint compared to the Da Vinci and be easily portable between ORs and is also likely to be cheaper than the existing option.

None of these new robotic systems have, however, hit the market yet. This is primarily because of the lengthy FDA process in the US and the stringent guidelines which make it difficult for a new system to enter the market. TransEnterix recently pushed its timeline for an FDA decision on its system from March to April this year.

Given the enormous growth and the staggering revenue potential, I predict that these companies will keep attempting to enter this market. It is only a matter of time before they get the necessary approvals to compete with the Da Vinci robot. However, the exact timeline of when one of these systems will hit the market is impossible to pinpoint at this stage.

Follow Manya Aggarwal on Twitter for more insight on the robotics and endoscopy & open surgery markets.

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