Medtronic Acquires Digital Surgery to Bolster Its AI and Surgical Robotics

by February 14, 2020

In an effort to reinforce surgical robotics, Medtronic, a medical device company, has acquired Digital Surgery, a London-based privately-held pioneer in surgical artificial intelligence, data and analytics, and digital education and training program for the operating room. The acquisition is aimed at strengthening Medtronic’s robot-assisted surgical platform and its broader portfolio.

Considering reports, Medtronic is making a big leap to compete against robotic surgery’s dominant player, Intuitive Surgical and its da Vinci SP. The medical device giant last year divulged its much-awaited Hugo RAS system. Digital Surgery intends to digitize surgical protocols using cutting-edge computing and support the delivery of consistent, data-driven, and evidence-based surgical care, the company officials said. Its products include Touch Surgery, an award-winning interactive training platform downloaded over 2 million times, and GoSurgery, an operating room efficiency platform.

Digital Surgery also plans to retain its current leadership and headquarters in the UK, albeit it will operate under the robotics arm of Medtronic’s Minimally Invasive Therapies Group, which aims to invest and expand the workforce of the company. However, the financial deal has not been disclosed.

With this acquisition, Digital Surgery and Medtronic will co-develop digital solutions that will be featured in future Medtronic soft tissue robotic-assisted surgery systems. The acquisition is also intended to advance minimally invasive surgery and expand patient access to high-quality surgical care.

The Medtronic-Digital Surgery deal involves Digital Surgery’s education app, Touch Surgery, with its on-demand library of hundreds of videos and procedure simulations for training surgeons and students outside the operation room. Digital Surgery also provides a HIPAA-certified surgical video sharing platform using AI to automatically identify and blur out images that could be leveraged to recognize patients or staff. This enables surgeons to interpret and edit videos for post-procedure team assessments, institutional training or use at conferences.

In a statement, Digital Surgery’s Co-founder Jean Nehme said that the company aims to apply computing and AI to surgery on a meaningful scale through its deal with Medtronic.

Last year, Medtronic had planned tools with multiple medical specialties, including bringing robotics to bear on virtually in every area as the company’s CEO Omar Ishrak laid out his intentions to develop and apply computer-guided surgery. Its robotics division has been focused on building four main technology vectors that cover Medtronic’s work across open surgery, laparoscopic and robotic procedures. Those vectors include visualization and navigation, instrumentation and implants, data and analytics, and the robotics platforms themselves.

As part of the latest acquisition, the announcement of the deal comes the same week when robotic products developer Intuitive Surgical move to acquire Orpheus Medical, an Israeli company that offers clinical video capture and archiving plus imaging documentation solutions.