The early days of this new year invite speculation on what transformations will take place in the months ahead. There’s already been chatter about the possibility that healthcare is on the cusp of a revolution in robotically-assisted surgery.
Several new manufacturers are at various spots on the game board, moving towards a time when surgeons looking to add such equipment to their practice get to choose from an abundance of devices.
Titan Medical is one of the manufacturers moving quickly to join the field. In the latter half of 2017, the company placed the SPORT Surgical System in multiple facilities across the globe as part of the extensive preclinical validation process to get the device cleared for broader use.
“The aim of those studies is to provide surgeons the opportunity to operate under real world conditions and to convey to us not only their critique of the performance of SPORT, but more importantly to provide insights regarding the types of procedures that SPORT may be ideally suited for within our targeted subspecialties of urological, gynecological, colorectal, and general surgery,” says David McNally, the President and CEO of Titan Medical.
Titan Medical has specifically sought surgeons experienced in robotic and laparoscopic surgery who are well positioned to collect and share vital information as they work with the SPORT Surgical System. Practitioners are producing video and written data that the Titan Medical engineering team can use to make targeted modifications to the device.
One of the first facilities to install the SPORT Surgical System was Florida Hospital Nicholson Center, which is no stranger to the opportunities and challenges inherent to working with robotically-assisted surgical systems during the development phase. The center previously handled similar duties for Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci and the Mazor X.
“We have a world class facility that offers a number of different services that Titan is looking for,” says Scott Bond, administrator with the Nicholson Center. “But more importantly, I think the team stands out.”
The experience gives Nicholson Center physicians and administrators the insight to create research projects that anticipate the unique challenges around surgical robots. They examine the unique features of the SPORT Surgical System and shape the experiments accordingly, knowing which metrics will be most valuable.
Among the innovations delivered by the SPORT is single-port access, which Nicholson Center physicians are already terming a potential game-changer.
Another difference that generates excitement is the unique design of the arms that enter the surgical field.
“The ends articulate more like snakes rather than being straight sticks,” explains Dr. Roger Smith, the Chief Technology Officer for the Nicholson Center. “Titan is making use of a technology that has a bunch of sequential joints, so the instrument can flare out at the beginning. It provides a bigger working space, and then it can bend its tips back towards the tissue that you’re operating on.”
Smith says the added articulation will give surgeons greater flexibility, as will the SPORT’s separate controls for the camera and the instrument.
“We’re hosting some really excellent robotic surgeons and getting their feedback directly on how well the features of Titan Medical’s SPORT Surgical System suit their needs to perform specific procedures,” adds Smith.
This evaluative phase of the SPORT Surgical System’s development is moving along swiftly enough that a commercial launch in 2019 looks possible, according to McNally.
“The Titan Medical team — which includes our employees and strategic partners — is energized to make SPORT the next revolution in robotic surgery,” enthuses McNally. “With these studies, we can evolve the product to be best-in-class in the marketplace.”