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Da Vinci Xi: Intuitive's Next-Gen Surgical Robot Released


Posted in Automation by Chris Wiltz on April 7, 2014

 Intuitive Surgical has released the da Vinci Xi in the U.S. But will it overcome the usability and legal issues of its predecessors? 


The granddaddy of the surgical robots is getting an update. Intuitive Surgical has announced FDA approval and the official U.S. release of the da Vinci Xi, the next generation of its popular surgical robot. The Xi is the fourth generation of the da Vinci and is designed as a minimally invasive approach to large-incision abdominal surgeries. Intuitive Surgical says the robot has been optimized for complex, multi-quadrant surgeries.

The da Vinci Xi system. (image copyright: Intuitive Surgical)
The Xi is designed for an improved user (surgeon) experience and ease of use. New features include:
  • A new overhead instrument arm architecture designed to facilitate anatomical access from virtually any position.
  • A new endoscope digital architecture that creates a simpler, more compact design with improved visual definition and clarity.
  • An ability to attach the endoscope to any arm, providing flexibility for visualizing the surgical site.
  • Smaller, thinner arms with newly designed joints that offer a greater range of motion than ever before.
  • Longer instrument shafts designed to give surgeons greater operative reach.
"The da Vinci Xi System's new overhead architecture means that multi-quadrant surgery can be performed without repositioning the system, an innovation long sought by surgeons who perform complex procedures,” Intuitive's president and CEO Gary Guthart said in a news release.
 
The Xi will also be compatible with Intuitive's Firefly Fluorescence Imaging System which uses near infrared imaging along with standard endoscopic light to enable surgeons to perform minimally-invasive surgery as well as visual assessments of vessels, blood flow, and tissue perfusion.
 
Given some reports, a better surgeon experience is precisely what the da Vinci needs. Anyone familiar with the da Vinci knows the robotic system has been the plagued by lawsuits so much so that daytime TV features 1-800 lawsuit commercials and there's an entire Web site devoted to the matter.
 
Intuitive Surgical's October 2013 quarterly earnings report noted at least 50 da Vinci lawsuits where plaintiffs alleged serious and sometimes fatal complications from da Vinci procedures as a result of product defects or issues with the way the company trains surgeons to use the robot.

A November 2013 FDA survey echoed this sentiment with all respondents reporting the da Vinci's complex user interface creates a big challenge in learning how to use the device. 

Still, news of the Xi's release has sent Intutitive Surgical stock surging.

With the U.S. introduction now underway, Intuitive says it will be seeking regulatory clearance in other global markets as well as clearance to make the Xi compatible with the Firefly imaging system.

 
 
The da Vinci Xi boasts an enhanced user experience.
 
 
 
-Chris Wiltz, Associate Editor, MD+DI
Christopher.Wiltz@ubm.com
 

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