Medical Robotics – Who needs a surgeon?

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Imagine being rushed to the operating room for an emergency procedure and being  greeted by an R2D2-like robot, all ready with a set of scalpels to cut you open and remove that pesky gallbladder or insert a life-saving coronary stent. It may be an exaggeration but it is an scenario that is getting closer and closer to reality judging from the increasing research in the area and the growing number of applications for approval of a varied range of systems and instruments to perform robotic surgeries.

The medical robots market size was estimated at nearly USD 5 billion in 2016 and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 21% to a size of about USD 13 billion in 2021. Factors driving this growth include increasing investment by hospitals in medical robots, increasing research funding, more startups and IPOs of medical robotics companies, increasing usage of robots for training and rehabilitation such as exoskeletons, and technological advances in materials, sensors and software.

The product offerings in this market include instruments and accessories and medical robot systems such as robots performing surgeries, noninvasive radiosurgery, hospital robots, rehabilitation robots, telemedicine robots, etc. Surgical robot systems have the highest share and include robots for laparoscopy surgeries, orthopedic surgeries, neurological surgeries, and steerable robotic catheters. High precision and patient’s preference for minimally invasive procedures will continue to drive growth specially in the field of laparoscopic surgery.

Another field with a huge potential to revolutionise medicine is nanorobotics or the use of nanotechnology for medical treatments. Think of a nanorobot as a machine that can perform actions at a cellular or even molecular level. Some of the applications include identifying and destroying cancer cells more effectively, elimination of bacterial infections in a very short time (minutes) compared to antibiotics, surgery at the cellular level by removing diseased cells or even repairing defective portions of an individual cells precise drug delivery, improve medical imaging, etc. Medical nanoscience and its applications is so interesting and promising that it deserves a separate post. More on this coming soon.

We will be exploring a pool of amazing companies in the field, some of which are listed below (in no specific ordering of importance). Stay tuned for more detailed reports on the best companies in this list.

  • Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
  • Stryker Corp.
  • Agilent Technologies
  • Accuray, Inc
  • Hansen Medical, Inc.
  • Roche Holding
  • Kirby Lester
  • Siemens Healthcare
  • Aurora Biomed
  • MAKO Surgical Corp.
  • Abbot Diagnostics
  • ZOLL Medical Corp
  • Baxter International
  • Biotek Instruments
  • Hocoma AG
  • Carefusion
  • Mazor Robotics
  • IRobot Corporation
  • ReWalk Robotics
  • Aesynt Inc

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