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Will Medtronic-Backed Mazor Robot Be a Boon to Spine Surgeons?

Will Medtronic-Backed Mazor Robot Be a Boon to Spine Surgeons?
Mazor Robotics reveals the many new capabilities of its forthcoming Mazor X robotic system, which is being copromoted by Medtronic.

Mazor Robotics offered details on its new Mazor X robotic system this week, revealing that spine surgeons will be able to use the system for analysis before the operation, for guidance during the operation, and for real-time 3-D verification during surgery, according to a company release.

Mazor made headlines in May with news that in addition to taking on an equity stake, medtech giant Medtronic had signed an agreement to copromote and codevelop products with the Israeli spine robotics company.

Medtronic is already making good on that agreement, having placed an order for 15 Mazor X systems.

The new system will be available for sale starting with a commercial launch in October at the North American Spine Society (NASS) annual meeting in Boston. The Mazor X platform has already been cleared by FDA, though some features, including visual tracking and an alignment tool, are pending clearance. 

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In a July 13 research note, Wells Fargo senior analyst Craig Bijou wrote that the new system "appears to be a significantly more advanced system" compared to the current Renaissance system. The three main advances consist of pre-operative analytics, intra-operative guidance, and real-time 3-D verification, according to the company. The X-Align module, which is pending FDA clearance, will be used to help clinicians determine a spinal alignment plan before surgery. During the surgery, a bed-attached, bone-mounted surgical arm will help guide the procedure as determined by the pre-operative analytics plan. Finally, 3-D verification during the procedure will used 2-D fluoroscopy-based technology, clearance-pending visual tracking, and intraoperative imaging to give surgeons the feedback needed to ensure the procedure is going as planned.

The Mazor X System is set for a commercial launch at the NASS annual meeting in October.

"The Mazor X platform expands the field of spine surgery from trajectory guidance to assisting surgeons with a total patient treatment strategy. Following our recently formed partnership with Medtronic and the increased market access it provides us, the launch of the Mazor X positions us for accelerated growth and long term leadership in the spine market," said Mazor Robotics CEO Ori Hadomi, in the company release.

Bijou wrote that the new system should allow spine surgeons to perform additional proceudres like posterial cervical fusions and percutaneous sacroiliac joint fusion. He added that besides copromoting the Mazor X system through surgeon educations, sales rep cross-training, and marketing, Medtronic will work with Mazor to develop implants like guided pedicle screws that would allow procedures to be done without the steel pins known as K-wires.

Atlanta-based orthopedic surgeon Dennis Devito, MD, said in the release, "In my opinion, [Mazor X] will be the standard of care, no doubt about it. This goes beyond just placing an implant. We're looking at how the whole procedure works."

By publicizing details about the Mazor X system, Mazor has hit an operational milestone in its agreement with Medtronic. This triggers the second tranche--another 6% equity stake--in Medtronic's investment.

[Images courtesy of MAZOR ROBOTICS]

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