The early success for Stryker Corp.’s surgical robot that’s now used in total knee replacement surgeries reflects a growing acceptance of the technology.
Last spring, the Kalamazoo-based Stryker (NYSE: SYK) fully launched a total knee replacement application using the Mako surgical robot, a technology that previously had been used for total hip and partial knee replacement.
The launch of total knee replacement with Mako underscores the growing role surgical robots are playing in health care.
“The story has completely changed, and now no one is doubting whether robotics are here to stay,” Stryker President and CEO Kevin Lobo told brokerage analysts during a recent conference call to discuss quarterly results. “It’s only a question of which robot and when do we get on board with robotics. And that’s a sea change versus even a year and a half or two years ago.”
Lobo said he was “very bullish” about the future of the robotics technology. Demand for the Mako robot “continues to be very strong,” Lobo said.
“Disruptive technologies take a little while to take hold, as you’ve seen in other parts of health care,” he said. “And this is one that’s really starting to take hold now.”
The launch of the Mako surgical robot application for total knee procedures came four years after Stryker bought Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Mako Surgical Corp. for $1.65 billion.
Stryker sold 33 Mako robots in the third quarter, 23 of them in the U.S. The company continues to update existing robots with its total knee application, said Katherine Owen, Stryker’s vice president of strategy and investor relations.
Outcomes measured at the six-month mark from launch found scores for pain, physical function and total patient satisfaction compared “statistically significantly better for patients undergoing total knee (replacement) with Mako” versus patients who had traditional knee replacement, Owen said.
In a March story in the online publication MedCityNews.com, Stryker Vice President and General Manager Stuart Simpson said partial knee replacement procedures using the Mako robot had 36 percent fewer 30-day complications. The cost of complications and hospital readmissions for Mako cases were 66 percent lower than non-Mako cases, Stuart told MedCityNews.
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