News Feature | July 13, 2016

Mazor Robotics Unveils New Spine Surgery System, Additional Investment By Medtronic

By Suzanne Hodsden

mazor renaissance
Image courtesy of Mazor Robotics.

Mazor Robotics has introduced a robotic surgical guidance system for spine surgery, called Mazor X, which will prompt another $20 million investment from Medtronic if conditions are met. According to a deal between Medtronic and the Israeli-based start-up signed in May, Medtronic has pledged up to $52 million in return for distribution rights and co-development agreements.

Mazor Robotics’ surgical platforms are mounted directly to the patient’s bone and use 3D modeling to place surgical instruments that are then controlled by surgeons. The robotic elements of the system are intended to improve accuracy and reduce the amount of radiation typically used to visualize the space when surgeons operate without the automated assistance.

The Mazor X platform includes pre-operative analytics to help surgeons plan their operation, intra-operative guidance with robotically placed tools, real-time 3D verification through proprietary fluoroscopy-based technology, and connectivity features. According to a press release, certain features of the Mazor X system are still pending FDA clearance.

Ori Hadomi, CEO of Mazor Robotics, noted that the company’s guidance technology had been used in over 100,000 guided spine implants and that experience was leveraged into the design of Mazor X.  The new system, he said, is a complete treatment strategy and “the culmination of a multi-year development effort to proactively address our target market, surgeon and patient needs for today’s reimbursement environment, by applying multi-disciplinary principles to achieve a Surgical Assurance platform.”

Medtronic expedited its entrance into the surgical robotics business in May by entering into a multi-year partnership agreement and investment deal with Mazor Robotics. The first part of that deal made Medtronic an exclusive co-developer and promoter of Mazor spinal technology in return for exclusive global sales and distribution rights, should the products meet certain milestones. According to a recent press release, the introduction of Mazor X satisfies one milestone and should trigger the second tranche of equity investment.

Hadomi told the Star Tribune that Mazor Robotics will remain an independent company despite investments and partnerships with Medtronic, because he wants Mazor technology to remain compatible with other companies’ implants. The increased market access made possible through the partnership with Medtronic, said Hadomi in a press release, “positions us for accelerated growth and long-term leadership in the spine market.”

Mazor announced that Mazor X will launch commercially this fall for $850,000 per system, following the North American Spine Society (NASS) conference in October.  Last month, Medtronic projected that the company will begin generating robotic surgery revenue by the end of 2019.

In recent months, new entrants and startups are poised to change the dynamics of the robotic surgical market, which currently is dominated by Intuitive Surgical’s Da Vinci Surgical System.  Johnson & Johnson, Stryker, Verily, and Smith & Nephew also have joined the growing list of new players in the segment.  A recent RR market research report estimated that the market worth for surgical robots will reach $20 billion by 2021.