The FDA has just improved the fortunes of a lot of sick patients (and one lucky tech company) by approving one little robot that can help perform surgeries more efficiently. The da Vinci Xi System is the most advanced surgical robot on the market, and the fourth version of the product for the brand. As of last Friday, the robot has been deemed safe and ready to hit hospitals, and operate on humans.
The da Vinci Xi System costs a pretty penny, ranging from $1.85 million to $2.3 million per hospital. It is being marketed to surgeons who specialize in complex procedures, but is designed to perform “minimally invasive procedures like prostate surgery.” The robot is, in some sense, an equalizer of surgeon expertise: “Some of the complex surgeries now done by a smaller group of [surgeons] can be done by a larger group of [surgeons] because of the ease of use,” said Salvatore J. Brogna, senior vice president for product development at Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
This particular robot does something no other surgical robot has been able to: move around the body. The robot’s surgical arm has a 180 degree rotation. The arm is also thinner and smaller than other robots of this kind. The instruments attached to the robots arms, such as endoscopes and incision devices, have also been updated to be top of the line, so it helps eliminate the need for large open incisions common to some abdominal surgeries.
This range of motion gives surgeons a greater advantage in cancer surgeries: "Say a surgeon is removing cancer in the uterus... He or she might need to explore other areas like near the diaphragm, or the stomach... there are different sites where the cancer is likely to spread. With the new robot, you can now excise that cancer right in the same procedure,” says Paul Millman, Intuitive’s vice president of product development.
The robot is the next frontier on minimally invasive, highly complex surgeries: “We strive to provide the most advanced, least invasive option for surgery, and we are working hard to make minimally invasive surgery the standard of care."
The FDA approval didn't hurt Intuitive's bottom line either. Stock in the S&P 500 company soared 13 percent on Tuesday and another 4-5 percent on both Wednesday and Thursday.
While the robot won’t be in hospitals for quite some time, you can check out what it can do here:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.