The 5th Annual Fast 50
19. Robot To Surgery!
Doctors only began using surgical robots, or "surgibots," in endoscopic procedures like gall-bladder removal in 2000. But Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci Surgical System, the first robotic system approved by the FDA to do actual cutting and sewing in humans, already performs 20% of all prostatectomies. The surgibot's slender arms (one fixed with a camera) make for smaller incisions, less bleeding and scarring, and shorter recovery time--all pretty strong selling points. But it gets better: A new souped-up version, the da Vinci S, is easier to use and more powerful, thanks to high-definition imaging and high-speed networking capabilities that could pave the way for remote surgery. Gary Guthart, Intuitive's senior vice president of product operations, expects the new version to attract many more surgeons over the next decade and for those doctors, in turn, to incorporate the robot into a wider range of operations. Until then, Guthart says remote training will take off: A da Vinci veteran can watch novices via video and talk them through the work. (But can they stream video to the 19th hole?)