- Robot-assisted surgery pioneer Intuitive Surgical said procedures using its da Vinci system rose 20% in the third quarter, compared with a year ago, as physicians performed more general surgeries in the United States and more urologic operations worldwide using the platform.
- Third quarter adjusted earnings of $2.83 per share topped the Wall Street consensus estimate of $2.66 per share, according to Reuters.
- On a conference call with analysts, Intuitive raised its forecast for full-year 2018 procedure growth to a range of 17% to 18% from the previously projected 14.5% to 16.5%, noting fourth-quarter system placements are expected to be strong as well.
The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said it shipped 231 da Vinci systems in the quarter, up from 169 in the same period last year. Among those were the first three da Vinci SP systems, which allow surgeons to guide the instruments and camera through a single port in the body.
A number of medical technology companies large and small are nipping at the heels of Intuitive with plans to introduce robotic surgery systems in the next few years, but so far, Intuitive's dominance is unchallenged. Johnson & Johnson's top medical device executive this week told analysts on the company’s earnings call that the healthcare giant would have a competitive offering in the robotic surgery arena in the "foreseeable future."
Tiny TransEnterix, Intuitive’s only current direct competitor with an FDA-approved robotic system on the market, earlier this month announced the sale of four of its Senhance systems. It also received FDA clearance for smaller-sized surgical instruments for use in its minimally invasive procedures.
Medtronic last month announced the acquisition of Mazor Robotics, maker of a robotic system for spine surgery, and is working on a robot that would compete more directly with Intuitive's da Vinci. Other companies with plans to enter the market eventually are the J&J-Google collaboration Verb Surgical, Auris Health, Titan Medical, Medrobotics and Accuray.
In the third quarter, Intuitive reported revenue of $921 million, up 14% from $808 million in the year-ago period. Third quarter net income was $293 million, or $2.45 per share, down slightly from $299 million, or $2.56 per share, a year ago.
Intuitive CEO Gary Guthart, on the conference call, said global procedure growth increased modestly from the strong second quarter rate, driven by strength in hernia repair, colorectal procedures and general surgery procedures including cholecystectomy. He characterized growth in mature procedures such as prostatectomy and hysterectomy as solid.
"We believe acceptance of da Vinci in general surgery in the United States, growth internationally and appreciation of our generation-four platform underpins our recent performance," Guthart told analysts.
The company also said it submitted a premarket notification to FDA during the quarter for its new robotic-assisted, catheter-based platform called Ion that can navigate small lung airways to reach peripheral nodules for biopsies.