"The future of surgery is not about blood and guts; the future of surgery is about bits and bytes.”
/Dr. Richard Satava/

Friday, July 22, 2016

News on FLEX

Flex is one of the newer rising platforms in surgical robotics. Here are some insights into their story:

"The year was 2005. Mr. Jordan, one of four executives-in-residence at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse on the South Side at the time, had just volunteered to help Howie Choset, a Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor, and Marco Zenati, then a cardiac surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh, develop and market a “snake robot” device for use in minimally-invasive surgeries.
The process of converting the snake robot model into a market-ready product was not easy or quick. Four years later, they had the first prototype ready for use on humans. The following year, 2010, the first clinical studies began in the Czech Republic and last summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave approval for its use for head and neck procedures.
By then, the device had been refined into something of an engineering marvel: a one-armed articulated robot equipped with a camera that allows the surgeon to see and reach tumors in tight places.
After several name changes (“People don’t like thinking there’s a snake in their body,” said Mr. Choset), the Flex Robotic System is now the centerpiece of a $130 million privately-held Medrobotics based in Massachusetts which, a decade ago and before Google and Uber’s arrival in Pittsburgh, was a hotbed for medical device and robotic product development.
The system is also the new darling in the world of robotics medicine.
Last week, the Flex Robotic System won best-of-show at the Medical Design Excellence Awards in New York City and next month UPMC surgeon Umamaheswar Duvvuri — the first to use the Flex Robotic System on a patient last December — will lead an afternoon-long session on the surgery at the American Head and Neck Society’s international conference in Seattle."

Early clinical data on Medrobotics' Flex appeared:
"Of the 79 patients on whom Flex® was used, doctors were able to expose, visualize and access the target area in 75 (94%) of the cases. Among patients who were treated or biopsied, 72 of 79 (91%) enjoyed successful completions. Fifty-eight percent of the successful procedures (42 of 72) were performed in areas the surgeons considered difficult to reach, such as the tongue base and vocal chords. There were no device-related adverse events reported."

A nice interview with Prof. Choset.

Source: Post Gazette, MedRobotics 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Video Wednesday

Get familiar with the da Vinci Skill Simulator's tasks:

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Zimmer Biomet is to buy Medtech

"Zimmer Biomet ($ZBH) flexed some of its cash-on-hand muscle and has entered into the growing surgical robotics arena with the purchase of France’s Medtech for an estimated $132 million.
According to an SEC filing, Zimmer Biomet agreed to buy a little more than 1.4 million shares of the 58.7% of the outstanding share capital of the French medical robotics company at a price of €50.00 ($55) per share, with convertible bonds priced at €50.03 ($55.60) each and the warrants at a price of €17.17 ($18.90) each.
The company also said it will make an all-cash tender offer for the Medtech shares it doesn’t already own at the price of $55 per share. That offer will be subject to the approval of France’s anti-trust regulatory agency.
Wall Street analysts have estimated the orthopedic giant’s pockets to be as deep as $5 billion in cash it can use in the next few years following its $13.4 billion acquisition of Biomet just a little over a year ago. 
The deal for Medtech is seen as Zimmer’s entry into the surgical robotics field that includes players such as Intuitive Surgical ($ISRG) and Stryker ($SYK). Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Alphabet ($GOOG) have partnered to create new robotic-assisted surgical platforms as well, and the U.K.’s Cambridge Medical Robotics just announced $20.3 million in Series A funding it plans to use to develop its robotic surgical technology.
Medtech's product portfolio includes two robots for minimally invasive brain and spine procedures dubbed the ROSA Brain and the ROSA Spine. The ROSA Brain received FDA approval in 2009 and the ROSA Spine a CE mark in 2014. 
"We expect Zimmer Biomet's industry-leading position to enable Medtech's innovative minimally invasive surgical robots to reach a much greater number of patients suffering from neurological and spine disorders globally,” Frank Yu, chief executive of the investment company Ally Bridge Group, said in a statement.
Ally sold its entire stake in Medtech as part of the deal. Additionally, Yu, Fernand Badano and Eric Briole have resigned from Medtech’s board of directors.
In early June, Zimmer shelled out about $1 billion to buy spinal surgery player LDR Holding and its Mobi-C CDR, which is the first and only device FDA-approved to treat both one- and two-level adjacent damaged cervical discs.
- here’s the SEC filing
- check out Ally’s announcement
- for more, head to FierceMedicalDevices"

Source: Medtech, Fierce Biotech

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mazor Robotics unveils Mazor X

"Ahead of an official commercial launch this fall, Mazor Robotics Lts. recently debuted Mazor X, which they are terming, “a transformative guidance platform for spine surgeries.” The company is positioning this device as a major technological step forward, moving the field of robotic-based surgery into more all-encompassing support than exists currently.
In a press release, Mazor Robotics CEO Ori Hadomi explains, “Mazor X is the culmination of a multi-year development effort to proactively address our target market, surgeon and patient needs for today’s reimbursement environment, by applying multi-disciplinary principles to achieve a Surgical Assurance platform.”

The Mazor X, which has been clinically validated in a variety of cases, represents a significant milestone in Mazor’s development. Surgical Assurance is provided by the Mazor X via three main coordinated processes:
  • Pre-Operative Analytics: A suite of software-based sophisticated tools designed to pre-operatively assess spinal alignment and implement full surgical planning, facilitating a total patient treatment strategy. A key component of Pre-Op Analytics, the X-Align* module, is a combination of biomechanical logic and virtual surgical tools with computerized alignment calculations, intended to streamline the process of creating a holistic alignment plan for each patient.
  • Intra-Operative Guidance: Utilizing precision mechanics and a bed-attached, bone-mounted surgical arm to guide surgical tools and synergistic implants* according to the Pre-Op Analytics. Coupled with innovative tracking* and imaging, Intra-operative Guidance effects predictable execution of the surgical plan.
  • Real-Time 3D Verification*: The Mazor X System's real-time verification allows surgeons to close the surgical loop and confirm - execution and reconciliation of the surgical plan using proprietary 2D fluoroscopy-based technology, visual tracking*, or intraoperative imaging systems.
News of the Mazor X system was essentially concurrent to the announcement that the Minneapolis-based Medtronic is prepared to up their investment in Mazor Robotics to the tune of $20 million. That financial boost comes less than two months after Medtronic’s initial strategic partnerships with the Israeli company were forged and was largely triggered by the new equipment’s unveiling.
Mazor X is slated for its proper commercial launch at the annual meeting of the North American Spine Society, taking place in Boston this fall."
Medtronic has already ordered 15 Mazor X systems and the system's potential market share is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

See it moving on Twitter.

Source: Surgical Product MagBusinesswire, Mazor Robotics

Friday, July 15, 2016


Surgical robot concepts from Pinterest:


Monday, July 11, 2016

9 Exciting Facts About Medical Robots

Repost from the medical futurist:
"Medical robots do not only exist in sci-fi movies, they are coming to healthcare. If medical professionals want to utilize them successfully and do not want to fear the loss of their jobs, they should learn more about them. Here are the 9 most exciting medical robot facts.
Medical robots do not only exist in sci-fi movies and the distant future, they are coming to healthcare and all stakeholders must prepare for them. Robots can support, assist and extend the service health workers are offering. In jobs with repetitive and monotonous functions they might even obtain the capacity to completely replace humans.
Thus, medical professionals and caretakers would do well to learn more about medical robots: what they are capable of, how to work with them and in what way they might complement the tasks they perform daily. Otherwise human medical workers might get replaced or grow frustrated if they experience that robots are able to do their jobs and they cannot change their previous tasks into something irreplaceable.

 See also the 9 Coolest Medical Robots in Sci-fi Movies selected by TMF, or check out our picks!