Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why is the company called Intuitive Surgical?
A. The company is called Intuitive Surgical because its technologies are designed to allow surgeons to operate through the small ports used in minimally invasive surgery but with the same direct approach learned in open surgery and similar or even better range of motion. This is in contrast to traditional laparoscopic surgery, where the surgeon must move the instrument handles in the opposite direction as the instrument tips – left means right and right means left. Many surgeons describe this approach as being counter-intuitive. Instead, when the da Vinci surgeon moves the console controls clockwise, the tiny wristed instruments inside the patient twist clockwise as well. Surgeons say that they benefit from the user interface design, which is very much like the experience of performing open surgery. Their patients benefit from a minimally invasive approach that offers better precision, visualization and control as compared to conventional laparoscopy.
A. The product is called "da Vinci" in part because Leonardo da Vinci is credited with inventing the first robot. da Vinci used unparalleled anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details to bring his masterpieces to life. The da Vinci Surgical System similarly provides surgeons with such enhanced detail and precision that the System can simulate open surgery while allowing doctors to perform complex procedures through a few tiny incisions.
A. Although seated at a console a few feet from the patient, the surgeon views an actual image inside the patient’s body while operating in real-time using electromechanically enhanced instruments. At no time does the surgeon see a virtual image, or program the system to perform any independent maneuvers outside of the surgeon's direct, real-time control.
A. The da Vinci Surgical System could theoretically be used to operate over long distances. This capability, however, is not the primary focus of the company and is not available with the current da Vinci Surgical System.
Intuitive Surgical's goal is to extend the benefits of minimally invasive surgery to as many patients as possible. Our strategy to achieve this includes the development of products that allow any doctors to rapidly expand their surgical techniques and capabilities. Our robotic surgical platforms currently allow surgeons to perform complex procedures using a minimally invasive approach.
In the interest of improving the surgeon training experience and expanding training programs, we are exploring telesurgery as a way to provide more convenient or expedient surgeon-to-surgeon proctoring and coaching. We see telesurgery as a means to allow surgeons to learn and optimize skills specific to robotic-assisted surgery under the guidance of leading specialists – with less disruption to clinical schedules and therefore less impact on patients.
A: Currently, The da Vinci Surgical System is currently being used worldwide, in major centers in the United States, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cypress, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Canada, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Israel, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Russia.
Q. Is Intuitive's technology patented?
A. Intuitive has an extensive patent portfolio of internally developed technology, as well as a variety of patents acquired or exclusively licensed from leaders in surgical robotics.
A. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the da Vinci Surgical System for use in a wide range of procedures. Please see the Regulatory Clearance page for specific clearances and representative uses.
A. MIS is surgery typically performed through small incisions – also known as operating ports or keyhole incisions -- rather than large incisions required for direct, manual access to the target anatomy. For the patient, MIS means there is greater potential for less pain, less blood loss, a shorter recovery, fewer complications, reduced hospitalization costs and faster return to normal daily activities. MIS has become standard-of-care for many surgical procedures. Intuitive Surgical's technology enables the use of MIS even for very complex procedures like cancer operations and open heart surgery.
A. On the contrary, the da Vinci System is designed to allow surgeons to operate with greater precision, visualization, dexterity and control. It advances their techniques and enhances their ability to perform complex minimally invasive surgery. The System translates the surgeon's hand movements in real time to its miniaturized instruments, while using motion scaling and tremor reduction to improve precision. The system can never be programmed to make decisions on its own or perform any surgical maneuvers without the surgeon's direct input via the console hand controls.
Q. What are the benefits of using the da Vinci Surgical System compared to traditional methods of surgery?
A. Some of the major benefits for the surgeon of using the da Vinci Surgical System over traditional surgery have been greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced 3DHD vision and improved access. Potential benefits for the patients can include: a shorter hospital stay, less pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss, fewer transfusions, less scarring, faster recovery and a quicker return to normal daily activities. None of these benefits can be guaranteed, since surgery is specific to each patient and procedure.
A. Robotic surgery devices are designed to perform entirely independent movements after being programmed by a surgeon. The da Vinci Surgical System is a computer-enhanced system that introduces a leading edge computer interface and 3DHD vision system between the surgeon's eyes, hands and the tips of micro-instruments. The system mimics the surgeon's hand movements in real time. It cannot be programmed, nor can it can make decisions on its own to move or perform any type of surgical maneuver. So while the general term "robotic surgery" is often used to refer to our technology, it is not robotic surgery in the strictest sense of the term.
A. Cardiac surgery requires an excellent view of the chest cavity, control required to perform atraumatic procedures on delicate vasculature and valvular anatomy and the ability to maneuver instruments with great precision and control inside the close confines of the heart. Surgeons historically have used an open approach to heart surgery through a sternotomy, which means splitting the breastbone and pulling back the ribs - resulting in a large, painful incision, potential for infections and complications and a long recovery for the patient. Fortunately, the da Vinci Surgical System provides surgeons and patients with what may be the most effective, least invasive treatment option for even the most complex cardiothoracic procedures including coronary artery revascularization and mitral valve repair.
Q: Why isn't Intuitive Surgical getting involved in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences project to develop robotic technology for use on the battlefield?
A: The DARPA project was, in fact, the project that inspired the creation of the first da Vinci System, and Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci Surgical System could theoretically be used to operate over long distances. However, optimizing the da Vinci System for remote or telesurgery applications is not the primary focus of the company's product design and development efforts, and this capability is not available with the current da Vinci Surgical System.
Q. While using the da Vinci Surgical System, can the surgeon feel anything inside the patient's chest or abdomen?
A. The system relays some force feedback sensations from the operative field back to the surgeon throughout the procedure. This force feedback provides a substitute for the actual sense of touch and is augmented by the enhanced vision provided by the high definition 3D view. While surgeons are not able to touch or feel the anatomy as in open surgery, they indicate that the improved visualization, precision, dexterity and control that da Vinci offers more than compensates for the loss of touch.
Q: What procedures have been performed using the da Vinci Surgical System? What additional procedures are possible?
A: The da Vinci System is a robotic surgical platform designed to enable complex procedures of all types to be performed through a series of 1-2 cm incisions, also called operating ports or keyhole surgery. To date, tens of thousands of da Vinci procedures have been performed including general, urologic, gynecologic, transoral, cardiac, thoracoscopic, and thoracoscopically-assisted cardiac procedures.
A:Intuitive's principal corporate offices are located in Sunnyvale, California, United States, which is in the Silicon Valley region near San Jose.
A: We currently market our system in the United States through a direct sales organization to Hospitals. We have European operations headquartered in Aubonne, Switzerland. We sell directly in some European countries and use distributors and agents in the rest of the world.
A: The average selling price of the da Vinci System varies according to model, features, service contract, etc. Please see our investor presentation for more details.
Q: How many da Vinci Systems have been sold?
A: Today, more than 2,585 da Vinci Systems are installed in over 2,025 hospitals worldwide. Please see our investor presentation for more details.
A: Today, we have approximately 2,362 employees.
All surgery presents risk, including da Vinci® Surgery and other minimally invasive procedures. Serious complications may occur in any surgery, up to and including death. Examples of serious or life-threatening complications which may require hospitalization include injury to tissues or organs, bleeding, infection or internal scarring that can cause long-lasting dysfunction or pain. Temporary pain or nerve injury has been linked to the inverted position often used during abdominal and pelvic surgery. Risks of surgery also include potential for equipment failure and human error. Risks specific to minimally invasive surgery may include: A long operation and time under anesthesia, conversion to another technique or the need for additional or larger incisions. If your surgeon needs to convert the procedure, it could mean a long operative time with additional time under anesthesia and increased complications. Temporary pain or discomfort may result from pneumoperitoneum, the presence of air or gas in the abdominal cavity used by surgeons in minimally invasive surgery. Research suggests that there could be an increased risk of incision-site hernia with single-incision surgery. Results, including cosmetic results, may vary. Patients who bleed easily, who have abnormal blood clotting, are pregnant or morbidly obese are typically not candidates for minimally invasive surgery, including da Vinci® Surgery. For more complete information on surgical risks, safety, and indications for use, please refer to http://www.davincisurgery.com/safety/. Patients should talk to their doctors about their surgical experience and to decide if da Vinci Surgery is right for them. Other options may be available. Intuitive Surgical reviews clinical literature from the highest level of evidence available to provide benefit and risk information about use of the da Vinci Surgical System in specific representative procedures. We encourage patients and physicians to review all available information on surgical options and treatment in order to make an informed decision. Clinical studies are available through the National Library of Medicine at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed.
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