In a recent interview, Intuitive Surgical President Dave Rosa discussed the future of surgical robotics and identified two key technological opportunities that will drive advancements in the field: improved visualization for surgeons and the implementation of focal therapy.
Rosa emphasized the importance of enhancing surgeons’ ability to see more clearly during procedures. He explained that the difference between skilled surgeons lies not in their manipulation of instruments, but rather in their anatomical knowledge. Understanding tissue planes, identifying potential areas of bleeding, and locating important structures like nerves and the ureter are crucial for successful surgeries.
To aid surgeons in developing this anatomical knowledge without requiring extensive experience, Rosa highlighted the use of fluorescence-guided surgery. By injecting a fluorescing marker into the body and using infrared lasers, surgeons can illuminate specific areas of interest. Intuitive Surgical is currently developing a molecule that is specific to prostate cancer, allowing surgeons to visualize and resect cancerous tissue with greater precision, even after initial removal.
Hyperspectral imaging and other visualization technologies were also mentioned as potential aids in improving surgeons’ understanding of what they are seeing during procedures. Intuitive Surgical’s Da Vinci system already incorporates an integrated capability called Firefly, which uses near-infrared fluorescence imaging to assist with gallbladder removal surgeries.
The second area of focus identified by Rosa is focal therapy, a less invasive treatment for prostate cancer. Through real-time imaging and targeted ablation, small tumors can be destroyed while minimizing side effects compared to traditional oncology therapies. The ability to detect cancer earlier, combined with the precision and access offered by surgical robotics, makes focal therapy a promising addition to the field.
Rosa introduced Intuitive Surgical’s Ion robotic-assisted bronchoscopy platform as an example of a potential tool for delivering focal therapy to tumors in various locations. The platform allows for deep penetration into the lungs, enabling biopsy procedures as well as future developments in tumor ablation.
Overall, Rosa emphasized that Intuitive Surgical sees itself not just as a robotics or medical device company, but as a minimally invasive care company. This broader perspective includes considerations beyond physical devices, such as the integration of data and advanced technologies. The goal is to make a meaningful difference in patient outcomes by leveraging a spectrum of innovative solutions.
– Dave Rosa, President of Intuitive Surgical, in an interview with DeviceTalks Editorial Director Tom Salemi for Intuitive Talks podcast.