Competitors challenge Medtronic's lead in the spine robot market

Alan Condon -  

More than a decade after the first spine surgical robot was launched, Medtronic is still considered the market leader, but smaller device companies could chip away at its market share as they launch their own platforms and adoption increases among surgeons.

Medtronic acquired Mazor Robotics for $1.7 billion in 2018 to accelerate the advancement and adoption of robotic spine surgery. The companies incorporated Medtronic's StealthStation with Mazor's robotics platform to launch the Mazor X Stealth Edition in 2019, but rival competitors including Globus Medical, NuVasive and ZimVie aim to compete with the medtech giant as robotics continues to gather momentum in the spine field.

Globus' ExcelsiusGPS is currently the closest rival to Medtronic's spine robot, but other device companies are looking for a slice of the pie. NuVasive is developing a robotic application for its Pulse integrated spine platform, Brainlab's Cirq spine robot received FDA clearance last year and Accelus — the latest company to enter the spine robotic market — is launching its Remi robotic navigation system.

The next generation of spine robots aim to address some of the well-documented challenges of the legacy systems, such as extended setup and teardown time, procedural workflow disruptions, large footprints and high cost.

Robots currently on the market cost about $1 million, but some companies also offer lease and bundle options with other products. However, as spine surgery continues to migrate to the outpatient setting, device companies are developing new business models that will make it more feasible for ASCs and hospitals that operate on fine margins to implement robots in their operating rooms.

The robotic spine surgery market is still in its infancy but the technology is developing rapidly. As competition continues to grow, the cost of these systems is likely to drop and spur greater adoption across the industry.

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