PUMA 560, the world's first surgical robot, was used in a brain biopsy procedure in 1985 to reduce hand tremors. But it has only been during the past twenty years that robot-assisted surgical procedures have become more commonplace—a trend that is expected to take off over the coming years.
There has also been a resurgence in remote robotic procedures due to Covid-19 and resulting staff shortages. Thanks to 5G networks and reduced latency times between the operating surgeon and the remote patient, patients can be operated on from a different hospital or even a different country.
Examples of robot-assisted surgical procedures
Surgical robots allow human surgeons to carry out procedures that would generally be performed as open operations, allowing patients to recover faster. Robotic surgery is also often used to make complex procedures easier to perform. Here are some common examples:
- Kidney transplant
- Kidney removal
- Robotic kidney surgery
- Single-site robotic gallbladder surgery
- Gallbladder removal
- Robotic prostate surgery
- Head-and-neck surgery
- Joint replacement surgery
- Robotic colorectal surgery
- Robotic coronary artery bypass
- Robotic cardiac surgery
- Robot-assisted cancer surgery
Some interesting figures
- 15.1% of all general surgeries were carried out using robot-assisted procedures in 2018, up from 1.8% in 2012.
- 84.2% of urological procedures are robotic in the UK.
- Worldwide, there are currently 1 million minimally invasive robotic surgeries, which will more than double by 2025.
- In 2030, the surgical robotics market is expected to reach $22.7 billion, thanks to novel technology, new market players, and disruptive business models.
Surgical robotics companies
It's safe to say the surgical robotics market is growing. And as it does, more-and-more companies are competing with each other and developing technologies. For example, last year, Johnson & Johnson revealed they were working on a competitor to Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci system—which was the only name associated with surgical robots ten years ago.
Here's our (non-exhaustive) list of 24 of the most exciting companies working in the surgical robotics space.
Founded in France in 2020, AcuSurgical's mission is to create a new standard of care in retinal microsurgery by making it safer and more accessible through the use of robotics.
2. Advanced Osteotomy Tools
Advanced Osteotomy Tools develops digital solutions in the field of bone surgery, such as CARLO®, which is the world's first Laser Osteotome approved for clinical use. CARLO® precisely cuts bone in any desired geometry using a groundbreaking cold ablation laser combined with robotics, navigation, and smart software.
3. Asensus Surgical
Asensus Surgical's Senhance® Surgical System addresses the economic limitations associated with traditional robotic systems by developing reusable instruments and an open-platform architecture strategy that enables hospitals to leverage their existing technology investments. This means that time and cost-per-procedure are comparable to manual laparoscopy. The system gives surgeons more control, integrating innovative technological advances to help laparoscopic surgery become more instinctive, more responsive, and more focused.
4. CMR Surgical
CMR Surgical's Versius was designed to enable surgeons to perform more minimal access surgery so that more patients can access the highest quality of surgical care.
Versius provides freedom of port placement to best suit the needs of each patient, allowing surgeons to operate laparoscopically with the benefits of robotic surgery. It has a small, lightweight and modular design that can be moved between departments to help hospitals get the most out of it.
5. EndoQuest Robotics
EndoQuest Robotics developed the Endoluminal Surgical (ELS) System, an endoluminal robotic surgical system, allowing surgeons to perform upper and lower gastrointestinal surgery less invasively through a trans-oral or trans-anal approach.
EndoQuest's robotic platform combines the flexibility of endoscopy, which can navigate the curvature of patients' anatomy, with instrumentation that allows the physician to use a conventional two-handed surgical technique.
Intuitive is the dominant surgical robotics company. Since 1995, Intuitive has advanced minimally invasive care through advanced robotic systems, end-to-end learning, and value-added services. The da Vinci surgical system was one of the pioneers of robotic-assisted surgery and is used by surgeons to deliver a less invasive approach to many types of surgery.
And when lung cancer is suspected, Intuitive’s Ion endoluminal system enables biopsy of small, hard-to-reach nodules.
7. Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson works in the fields of Surgical Robotics (OTTAVA™), Flexible Robotics (MONARCH®), and Ortho Robotics (VELYS™).
The MONARCH® Platform combines traditional endoscopic views, robotics, and computer-assisted navigation to provide continuous vision during diagnostic or therapeutic bronchoscopy procedures. It is designed to more accurately access, diagnose, and treat small, hard-to-reach peripheral lung nodules.
The VELYS™ Robotic-Assisted Solution helps simplify surgeons’ existing workflow, and is designed around how they plan, execute, and perform surgery for total knee replacement. It is a table-mounted robotic technology that helps resect bones that align and position the implant relative to the soft tissue without the need for pre-operative imaging.
The company is also developing OTTAVA™, a next-generation surgical robotic platform, which it claims has the potential to revolutionise surgery and provide optimal outcomes.
Medicaroid's hinotori™ was developed as a robotic-assisted surgery system to reproduce a surgeon's sensitive movement. It has eight-axis operation arms that move smoothly and reduce arm-to-arm or arm-to-assistant interference to make surgery smoother.
The hinotori™ Surgical Robot System was the first Japanese robotic-assisted surgery system to be approved by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan.
Medtronic’s Hugo™ RAS was designed to make more robot-assisted surgeries possible. It can be flexibly configured based on the space in which it is used, the procedure for which it is used, or the patient for whom it is used. It offers enhanced visualisation and instrumentation as well as a secure video recording option to analyse and improve performance.
Meerecompany is based in Seoul, South Korea. Revo-i was the first surgical robot in Korea and was designed based on the philosophy of "better care for more patients". The company wants patients to quickly recover, facilitated by the use of surgical robots. The Revo-i surgical robotic system allows surgeons to carry out minimally invasive surgery, affording advantages to patients.
11. Momentis Surgical
Momentis Surgical offers a robotic-assisted surgical platform available for use in transvaginal gynecologic procedures, including benign hysterectomy. At the moment, it is the only FDA-authorised product for transvaginal robotic surgery. The Anovo™ Surgical System features miniature, humanoid-shaped robotic arms with human dexterity, superhuman flexibility, and 360˚ articulation.
12. Monteris Medical
Monteris Medical’s NeuroBlate® is a minimally invasive, robotic, laser thermotherapy tool that uses MRI-guided surgical ablation technology specifically designed for use in the brain. It provides precise and maximal brain lesion ablation for patients without the invasiveness of an open neurosurgical procedure.
13. Moon Surgical
Moon Surgical aims to help surgeons with their developments in computer vision, haptics, and robotics. The company's aim is to revolutionise minimally invasive surgery through the power of collaborative and adaptive robotics. Its Maestro System can be used in any laparoscopy, in any operating room.
14. Monogram Orthopaedics
Monogram Orthopaedics is driven by the 100,000 knee replacements that fail each year. Their aim is to provide a solution to this problem. Acknowledging that joint replacement technology has largely remained the same for more than 40 years, Monogram’s technology delivers custom-fitting, 3D-printed joints implanted with robotic precision.
Neocis' Yomi is the first and only robot-assisted technology for dental surgery. During implant surgery, it eliminates the need for a surgical guide but maintains accuracy. It also prevents drill deviation or over-drilling past a pre-planned depth to avoid critical anatomies such as nerves or the sinus cavity.
16. Quantum Surgical
Quantum Surgical works in minimally invasive cancer treatment and has developed Epione®, a new category of interventional oncology robotics. The medical robot is designed to allow physicians their choice of any ablative technologies (radiofrequency, microwave, cryoablation, irreversible electroporation) so they can decide on the right therapy for each individual patient.
17. Siemens Healthineers
Siemens Healthineers’s Corindus CorPath GRX is designed to protect and assist interventional cardiologists in complex percutaneous coronary interventions. It helps to create a safer work environment by allowing operators to perform procedures from a radiation-shielded workspace. The robotic system also enables operators to navigate complex anatomies more consistently and predictably, and it helps to select the appropriate stent and ensures accuracy in device positioning.
Smith+Nephew’s CORI is a handheld robotic solution backed by Real Intelligence, designed to work in the field of orthopaedics. It is a surgeon-controlled, handheld intelligence that allows image-free, smart mapping, real-time planning and gap assessment, and optimised alignment and balance of the implant for total and partial knee arthroplasty.
Stereotaxis develops surgical robotics for minimally invasive endovascular intervention. Genesis RMN System is a robotic navigation and imaging system. It uses smaller magnets that rotate along their centre of mass, allowing for increased responsiveness to physician control.
The entire system is significantly smaller and designed to improve the patient experience while on the operating table, provide physicians and nurses with greater access to the patient during the procedure, and increase lab space for an enhanced work environment.
Stryker’s Mako provides surgeons with a more predictable surgical experience when performing joint replacement surgery. The solution combines three key components: 3D CT-based planning, AccuStop haptic technology, and insightful data analytics into one platform that endeavours to improve outcomes for patients undergoing total knee, total hip, and partial knee procedures.
21. Titan Medical
Titan Medical’s ENOS robot-assisted surgery technology comprises three elements: First, a surgical workstation, which includes a 3D high-definition display to provide a crucial balance of surgical immersion and situational awareness in the operating room; second, a patient cart that includes two articulating arms and two lighted camera systems; lastly, multi-articulated instruments, bring fluid flexibility and strength to position the end effectors for grasping, suturing, cutting and coagulation.
22. Vicarious Surgical
Vicarious Surgical’s robot design intends to maximise visualisation, precision, and control of instruments in robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery—attempting to transport the surgeon into the patient’s body. It uses a single port requiring a 1.5 cm incision for the insertion of the camera and two robotic instruments.
23. Virtual Incision
Virtual Incision has developed the Miniaturized Robotic Assisted Surgery platform. It allows the surgeon to set up the operating room in minutes without ever needing to drape, dock, or move heavy equipment.
24. Zimmer Biomet
Zimmer Biomet's Rosa is a robotic platform that assists surgeons in planning and performing complex neurosurgical procedures minimally invasively. The ROSA ONE Brain, for example, allows many neurosurgical procedures to be performed often without needing to shave the entire head. It can increase the speed for multiple trajectory neurosurgical cases, and its accuracy ensures the instruments are placed in the planned area while avoiding critical structures.
The companies listed in this blog may differ widely; however, they share common goals. First, they seek to provide patients with better outcomes and reduced recovery times. Second, they aim to assist surgeons to carry out complex procedures by giving them more accuracy and information. Lastly, they try to reduce the costs of medical treatment by providing flexible and configurable solutions.