Surgical robotics maker Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG) today announced FDA clearance for its Firefly fluorescence imaging, providing real-time visualization of blood and tissue during minimally invasive surgery.
Firefly allows surgeons to swap between standard lighting and near-infrared imaging combined with injectable fluorescent dye that makes it easier to see blood flow. The technology is especially useful in gallbladder removal by highlighting important ducts connected to the organ.
Firefly imaging has been an optional component of the da Vinci robot-assisted surgical suite since 2011, but will now ship by default with every new Xi system, Intuitive Surgical said.
"With this latest clearance for the da Vinci Xi System, we’re fulfilling our promise of providing an expandable technology platform designed to accommodate and seamlessly integrate a range of current technologies in areas such as imaging, advanced instruments and anatomical access," marketing & business development vice president Frank Grillo said in prepared remarks. "This is a significant technology designed to enhance surgical performance by providing the surgeon with additional visualization capability during surgery, and we are very pleased to bring it to the Xi platform."
The FDA win is good new for the California company, which has had its hands full battling negative headlines. Skeptics of robot-assisted surgery have argued that the technology represents significant costs without added benefit to patients. The company was recently the primary subject of a study warning that novel devices may harm patients when clinics lean on the technology rather than on proper training. Earlier this year the da Vinci system also became a poster child for over-priced U.S. healthcare, with Permanente Medical Group CEO Dr. Robert Pearl blaming surgical robots and other devices for "increasing prices for products that don’t add much value."