However, the existing robots are not only phenomenally expensive but are large and unwieldy, time-consuming to operate, and mostly used only for complex spine procedures. Today, when surgical robots are deemed as the future, addressing this critical unmet market need is Fusion Robotics. The Boulder, CO-based startup is ushering a paradigm shift in the posterior lumbar spinal fusion surgery market with its smaller and more practical surgical robots that are set to deliver greater value to the hospital and the surgeon. “Simple, Accurate, and Economical” is the Fusion Robotics tagline.
The Fusion Robotics system is a small, robotic device coupled to a navigation system to assist surgeons place pedicle screws in spinal fusion procedures. “Our disruptive technology is simple and easy for the surgeon to use as the setup only takes 10 minutes, and the takedown time is two or three minutes as opposed to the current 30-40 minutes,” says Brad Clayton, president and CEO of Fusion Robotics. The economical platform has effectively surmounted the constraints of practicality and cost—it is only one-fourth of the price of existing systems.
Another ace up its sleeve is its small size. Currently, the robots in the market are the size of a small refrigerator weighing close to 400 or 500 pounds and are positioned right next to the surgical table. “In stark contrast, our robotic system, the size of a hardcover book, weighs just four pounds, connects directly to the operating table all while enabling the surgeon to work around with ease and delivering the same accuracy and precision,” states Clayton.
Our robotic system, the size of a hardcover book, weighs just four pounds, connects directly to the operating table while delivering the same accuracy
The advantages don’t stop there; unlike other robots that perform brain and knee surgeries, Fusion Robotics’ small robot, “does one thing and does it well”—and that’s to put a pedicle screw in spinal surgery.
The Fusion Robotics system leverages a simplified version of the current navigation systems in use that allows surgeons to see their instruments in real time against a CT or fluoro image. An optical camera is used to measure the robot’s position in space and communicate with the navigation system—the brain of the robot—making it a closed system. This ensures that the control and the robot are always communicating and being error-checked with the localization camera to make certain that the robot is on the correct trajectory. It is a closed system of operation for safety.
Fusion Robotics has clearly negated all the drawbacks associated with current robots that have restricted their application to only longer complex surgeries. The highlight of the system is that it can be used in simpler surgeries to assist the surgeon and staff in being more efficient.
The team behind the winning solution is a perfect blend of professionals each with more than two decades of in-depth experience in robotics and spinal surgery. Speed to market is their forte. The Fusion Robotics team is in the process of finalizing their FDA 510(k) application and expecting to receive FDA clearance in the summer of 2020. “In five years, we envision to be the market leader in non-complex spinal fusions with a major impact on patient outcomes and surgeon efficiency,” concludes Clayton.