R2D2 in the OR
For years, robotic surgery was regarded skeptically as space-aged medicine. But a new generation of minimally-invasive procedures involving the reconstruction of delicate and critical body structures is giving life to this technology. Now the domain of small companies, signs of interest by large device companies could give this industry a major boost.
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The market for image-guided surgical systems is worth $1.2 billion in 2005, according to a report recently issued by Medtech Insight, $1 billion attributable to interventional imaging, and $155.2 million to the sales of surgical navigation systems. The market is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 5.5% for the next several years, a slightly higher rate than the 4.1% forecast for the imaging industry as a whole.
It has been nearly a decade since the promise of medical robotics, first unveiled in orthopedic surgery, was introduced with the launch of the Robodoc surgical system. But robotics and other computer-assisted tools such as navigation systems failed to live up to their early hype, and surgeons were slow to adopt the new technology. However, according to presentations made at this year's American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) meeting, held in February in Dallas, improved technology appears to be generating increased interest among orthopedic surgeons in robotics, navigation systems, and other computer-assisted tools, resulting in the emergence of a new sub-specialty called computer-assisted orthopedic surgery (CAOS).
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