New patent for Computer Motion and Intuitive's da Vinci FDA-cleared for prostate removal

Mountain View & Santa Barbara 16 July 2001Intuitive Surgical Inc. recently received market clearance from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promote use of the da Vinci Surgical System and endoscopic instruments for performance of Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy. Prostate removal is the most common surgical procedure performed on men with prostate cancer. Meanwhile, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued another broad-based medical robotics patent, numbered 6,244,809, to its competitor, Computer Motion Inc. This marks the 26th patent issued to Computer Motion. The company also has approximately 50 patent applications pending which cover intellectual property created by its in-house development team.


The new patent includes, but is not limited to, a medical robotic system which can control a first surgical instrument and a second surgical instrument, encompassing two robotic arms to move the surgical tools. A cabinet with a monitor mounted to it, is coupled to both robotic arms, and has a screen that displays an image. A third robotic arm is able to move an endoscope, which is coupled to the monitor. A plurality of handles extends from the cabinet and the monitor toward the surgeon allowing him to face the monitor and view the image when operating the handles. These can be manipulated to control the first and second robotic arms while a foot pedal can be activated to control the third robotic arm.

"The claim covers the main components of a robotic surgical system for use in minimally invasive surgery", stated Yulun Wang, Ph.D., founder and chief technical officer of Computer Motion. "Additionally, the patent defines the surgeon interface components and how they are used to operate a robotic surgical system. This broad patent adds to our already expansive intellectual property portfolio and will allow Computer Motion to continue to protect its products for many years to come in this emerging market", Dr. Wang added.

Dr. Wang continued that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office considered other known inventions of similar nature, such as those licensed by Intuitive Surgical from Stanford Research Institute and IBM, and concluded that the Computer Motion invention is unique and patentable. Yet, Intuitive Surgical claims that its da Vinci Surgical System is the only robotic system which has received market clearance by the FDA to perform surgery. The system has a surgeon's viewing and control console with an integrated, high-performance InSite 3D vision system, a patient-side cart consisting of three robotic arms which position and precisely manoeuvre endoscopic instruments, as well as an endoscope, and a variety of articulating EndoWrist instruments.

Currently, radical prostatectomy procedures are performed through large surgical incisions, which often result in lengthy and uncomfortable patient recovery. With the da Vinci Surgical System, surgeons are able to perform this procedure through minimally invasive surgical or "keyhole" incisions, significantly reducing the patient's pain, blood loss, and recovery time. Commenting on the clearance, Lonnie Smith, President and CEO of Intuitive Surgical stated: "From our company's inception, it has been our objective to enter and serve the large and expanding field of urology. We are delighted to receive this FDA market clearance for use of the da Vinci Surgical System in performing Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy procedures."

"In the United States alone, prostate cancer affects nearly 200.000 men annually and is the second leading cause of death in men over the age of 55. Offering a minimally invasive alternative to the highly invasive open procedure is being well received by urologists, patients, third party payers, and our hospital partners. This represents an excellent example of how minimally invasive surgery can benefit all parties within the health care delivery chain, particularly the patient", added Mr. Smith.

Inderbir Gill, M.D., Head of the Section of Laparoscopic and Minimally Invasive Surgery in the Urology Department at the Cleveland Clinic stated: "The da Vinci Surgical System can enable performance of Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy by facilitating the delicate surgical tasks associated with the procedure which, in turn, will likely be associated with superior clinical outcomes and enhanced patient benefits. The FDA clearance opens the door for applying the da Vinci Surgical System robotic technology to a common, yet challenging, procedure."

The da Vinci Surgical System seamlessly and directly translates the natural hand, wrist, and finger movements on instrument controls at the surgeon's console outside the patient's body into corresponding micro-movements of the instrument tips positioned inside the patient through small puncture incisions, or ports. For more news on the procedure of Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy, we refer to the VMW December 2000 article ValleyCare Medical Center to integrate robotics for safe and patient-friendly prostate cancer treatment.

Leslie Versweyveld

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