Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) isn’t known for tooting its horn prematurely. The public won’t hear much about a new J&J device until the company’s good and ready.
So it should come as no surprise that J&J’s DePuy Synthes business has kept relatively mum about the robotically assisted knee surgery device it’s been developing. J&J entered the competitive surgical orthopedic robot world when DePuy Synthes bought Paris-based Orthotaxy and its orthopedic-surgery robot prototype in 2018.
DePuy Synthes gave attendees at the recent American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons conference a peek at the latest prototype of the Orthotaxy device. It’s is the size of a shoebox, attaches to an operating table and includes a saw, but does not do the sawing for the surgeon. Instead, the Orthotaxy platform will design the surgery plan and lock the saw into a plane, allowing the surgeon to do the cutting, according to Liam Rowley, VP of R&D for knees at DePuy.
“There are no blocks required. There’s no pinning required,” Rowley said. “We saw this as what the world actually needs. This is bed-mounted. It’s not a huge device that sits on the floor.”
The Orthotaxy robot will be much smaller and less expensive than surgical robots currently on the market, making what DePuy hopes will be a better candidate for incorporation into the increasingly popular stand-alone orthopedic surgery centers. Because the Orthotaxy robot will not require surgeons to use disposable instruments, it can save from $1,500 to $2,500 per procedure. No technician will be necessary in the OR, either, because Orthotaxy will be easy to use, according to Rowley.
“It’s smaller. It’s actually quicker,” he said. “There’s no CT (scan) required. In terms of world healthcare costs, this is not upping the cost that somebody has to bear to get standard of care. There’s a per-procedure reduction in costs.”
DePuy officials believe that this robot’s smaller profile, quicker procedures and lower per-procedure costs will help health systems to better justify their costs to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which have been pressuring hospitals to cut the costs of orthopedic procedures and follow-up care.
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