Zimmer Biomet completed the first total knee replacement surgeries using ROSA, a successful next step in the robot’s commercialization.
These first five cases were performed in a single surgery day by Dr. Dugal James at St. John of God Bendigo Hospital in Australia. This perhaps hints at the company’s positioning of ROSA as efficient and minimally disruptive to procedure flow. “Not only are we ahead of schedule, but that's a pretty good stat that we feel good about,” CEO Bryan Hanson said in the company’s 3Q earnings call.
ROSA is expected to receive FDA 510(k) approval in 1H19. Full launch is expected in 2H19.
The top four knee replacement players by revenue, Zimmer Biomet, Stryker, DePuy Synthes and Smith & Nephew, have all acquired robotic technologies with the belief that they are essential to a complete portfolio. The tools vary in a range of size, sophistication and price points.
ROSA uses a robotic arm similar to Stryker’s Mako. ROSA also features imageless capability (no CT or MRI images are required, although X-rays can be used for pre-op planning) and the ability to implant multiple Zimmer Biomet knees (PERSONA® and VANGUARD®, for example). An interesting differentiator of ROSA is that it does not require a product specialist to assist intra-operation, which can drive up procedure costs.
One possible drawback for ROSA is the inability for one robot to handle brain, spine and knee applications. “Our brain application and spine application will be in the same robotic system. Out of the gate, the knee system will be separate,” Hanson explained. “There is an opportunity clearly for us to be able to combine all three applications in one unit. We are going to be assessing the value of doing that in the future. And if it makes sense, we could certainly make that happen.”
Zimmer Biomet acquired the ROSA Robotics portfolio, which included spine and brain applications, as part of its 2016 acquisition of Medtech. Zimmer Biomet then developed the knee application internally.
*Image courtesy of Zimmer Biomet