The future of robotic surgery
For 20 years Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci® system has held the monopoly in minimally invasive robotic surgery. Restrictive patenting, a well-developed marketing strategy and a high-quality product have protected the company’s leading market share.1 However, owing to the nuances of US patenting law, many of Intuitive Surgical’s earliest patents will be expiring in the next couple of years. With such a shift in backdrop, many of Intuitive Surgical’s competitors (from medical and industrial robotic backgrounds) have initiated robotic programmes – some of which are available for clinical use now. The next section of the review will focus on new and developing robotic systems in the field of minimally invasive surgery (Table 1), single-site surgery (Table 2), natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) and non-minimally invasive robotic systems (Table 3).