Robotic-assisted orthopedic surgical technologies begin a promising resurgence following a year of stunted growth.
According to Persistence Market Research, the orthopedic robotics surgical market reached a valuation of about $1 billion in 2018. The firm predicts that the market will expand to account for over $4.1 billion by the end of 2029. Increasing emphasis on value-based outcomes and reduced cost of hospital stays continue to propel the market. The desire to automate also exists for both medical manufacturing and clinical applications. Orthopedic surgical robots fulfill this need while performing surgery.
Further, rising cases of ailments like meniscus tears, ligament ruptures, knee and hip fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis continue to fuel the need for robotic or computer-assisted surgical solutions.
“Orthopedic robotics have reached an inflection point in the adoption curve and are here to stay,” commented Elise Wolf, GM of digital surgery and robotics and VP of quality control for SmartTRAK, an Irvine, Calif.-based medical device business intelligence solution that networks an entire organization with real-time market data and analysis. “Orthopedic and spinal implant companies with robotic systems have achieved above-market growth assisted by implant pull-through associated with the robot.”
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic stifled pretty much every medtech sector to some degree, with the exception of diagnostic tests, ventilator technologies, and personal protective equipment. Orthopedics was hit hardest because the sector is largely comprised of elective surgeries. Global orthopedic firms saw revenue loss percentages in the double-digits in 2020: Zimmer Biomet and Smith+Nephew dropped 12 percent from the previous year, and NuVasive fell 10 percent. According to Research and Markets, about 28 million surgeries were called off around the world during the pandemic’s duration thus far. Accordingly, the procedural decline led to deterioration in surgical robotics sales.
“Robot placements across orthopedics and spine were achieving record placements prior to COVID-19,” said Wolf. “As more lucrative elective recon and spine procedures were postponed due to the pandemic, hospitals faced significant budget constraints limiting capital equipment (robotic and navigation) sales. The most successful companies have adapted their business models to place systems in exchange for long-term minimum implant commitments. Based on Q4 2020 earnings calls, companies have seen a promising procedural resurgence and a swing back to more hospital capital equipment sales.”
There is indeed hope for the sector to reignite. A global decline in COVID-19 cases, decreasing virus-related hospitalizations, and acceleration of the vaccine rollout have given much-needed optimism. According to Medtronic CFO Karen Parkhill, more hospitals invested in capital equipment, and the firm achieved record numbers of Mazor robot sales in its Q3 fiscal year 2021, and near-record sales of navigation and O-arm imaging systems. “At this stage, our capital sales are, at least last quarter, back up to pre-COVID levels,” Parkhill said in a Cowen Healthcare conference call. “While we think one quarter is not necessarily a trend yet, we’re encouraged by what we saw.”
By Sam Brusco | Orthopedic Design & Technology
Image Credit: DePuy Synthes