Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) announced its preliminary first-quarter operational results on Wednesday and addressed the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on its business. The robotic surgical systems company stated that the estimated number of procedures performed with its da Vinci system increased around 10% year over year in Q1. Intuitive reported that it shipped 237 da Vinci systems in the quarter, up slightly from the 235 systems shipped in the prior-year period. 

COVID-19 impact

Senior Director of Finance-Investor Relations Calvin Darling noted in the company's Q4 conference call in January that the first quarter tends to be the company's weakest because that's when patients' deductibles are reset for the year. However, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caused even bigger problems for the company in Q1.

Surgeons operating with a da Vinci robotic surgical system

Image source: Intuitive Surgical.

Intuitive Surgical disclosed in a regulatory filing on March 16 that its procedure volumes decreased in countries that had been impacted early by the novel coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, the company said that in the latter half of March, its procedure volume declined significantly in the U.S. and Western Europe, and there were delays in system placements in both regions.

Withdrawing full-year guidance

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Intuitive Surgical is withdrawing its 2020 financial and procedural guidance. The company anticipates that the global health crisis will continue to affect its operations and financial results significantly. But given the uncertainties about how long the pandemic will last and how long it will take for the global economy to recover, Intuitive Surgical can't estimate the extent of the impact this will have on its operations and financial results.