What happened

Shares of TransEnterix (ASXC 2.00%) were jumping 12.3% higher as of 11:11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday after climbing as much as 23.8% earlier in the day. The company announced that it received Japanese regulatory approval for its Senhance surgical system, a robotic surgical system used in minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures.

So what

In TransEnterix's press release about the Japanese approval, CEO Todd Pope highlighted just why it's such a big deal. "Regulatory approval in Japan is a pivotal milestone for our company, as Japan is second only to the U.S. as the world's largest surgical robotics market," Pope said, adding, "Japan's high penetration of laparoscopic surgery coupled with their rapid adoption of robotics and the intense focus on procedure cost creates a considerable market opportunity for Senhance."

Physician with palm extended and a graphic in front of him with the words "Robotic Surgery"

Image source: Getty Images.

Japan has more than 8,400 hospitals, and around 80% of them are private -- prime potential customers for TransEnterix's Senhance system.

A big new opportunity doesn't necessarily translate to easy money, though. Pope noted in the company's Q1 conference call that "the U.S. represents the largest potential opportunity for Senhance." TransEnterix won U.S. regulatory approval for Senhance in October 2017. Since then, however, the company has made less than $35 million in revenue.

Now what

TransEnterix now must take advantage of its opportunity in Japan. The company intends to use a national distributor in the country for sales, marketing, and technical support. 

Investors shouldn't expect significant revenue anytime soon from TransEnterix's new market. As Pope stated in the Q1 conference call about expanding into Japan, "This process is typically measured in years, not quarters."