Surgical robotics was little more than a medical curiosity until 1999, the year Intuitive Surgical (Sunnyvale, CA) introduced the da Vinci® Surgical System. Today, Intuitive Surgical is the global leader in the rapidly emerging field of robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery.
The original prototype for Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci System was developed in the late 1980s at the former Stanford Research Institute under contract to the United States Army. While initial work was funded in the interest of developing a system for performing battlefield surgery remotely, possible commercial applications were even more compelling: It was clear to those involved that this technology could accelerate the application of a minimally invasive surgical approach to a broader range of procedures.
In 1995, Intuitive Surgical was founded to test this theory. In January 1999, Intuitive launched the da Vinci Surgical System, and in 2000, it became the first robotic surgical system cleared by the FDA for general laparoscopic surgery. In the following years, the FDA cleared the da Vinci Surgical System for thoracoscopic (chest) surgery, for cardiac procedures performed with adjunctive incisions, and for urologic and gynecologic procedures.
In June 2000, Intuitive Surgical conducted a successful initial public offering. In 2003, the Company acquired its principal competitor Computer Motion, strengthening its intellectual property holdings and ensuring its position as the world’s sole provider of robotic-assisted surgical systems.
Today, over 850 da Vinci Systems are installed in hospitals worldwide. As of December 31, 2007, Intuitive Surgical held exclusive field-of-use as well as non-exclusive licenses for over 200 U.S. patents and over 90 foreign patents, and owned outright over 140 U.S. patents and over 60 foreign patents. In addition to developing its own proprietary technologies, Intuitive Surgical has established relationships with several industry leaders including IBM Corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Heartport, Inc. (Johnson & Johnson). The Company has also entered into industry collaborations with companies including Ethicon Endo-Surgery (Johnson & Johnson), Medtronic and Olympus Optical.
Superior surgeon ergonomics and comfort
Magnified, stereoscopic (3-D) visual camera
Miniature, 8-mm diameter robotic instruments