To regular readers of The Motley Fool, Intuitive Surgical
This is not the case. To this end, I was floored Monday morning when I visited one of my favorite technology blogs, Crave, and stumbled on this entry titled "Robot assisted prostate surgery? Uhh -- you first." The site had picked up news that the Swedish Medical Center (a chain of hospitals in the Pacific Northwest) was encouraging patients with prostate cancer to consider having surgery using Intuitive Surgical's robotic procedure.
From the posting, it's clear the author felt that the practice was some kind of new, relatively untested procedure. It's not. In 2006, 35% of all prostatectomies in the United States were performed using Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci equipment, and that number is expected to increase to 50% this year.
If anything, not using the da Vinci equipment is the more risky approach. This is because with Intuitive Surgical's equipment, the incisions are smaller, the operating time is faster, and recovery time is significantly shorter.
And therein lies the opportunity for Intuitive Surgical investors. As these benefits continue to become even better-known -- with more hospitals advertising the benefits of the procedure -- it's quite likely that an increasing number of patients will opt for the robotic technique.
Moreover, if you read the posting on the hospital's website, two other things will jump out at the reader. First, it reports that "Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. An estimated 230,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with the condition each year." This suggests that there is still a lot of room for Intuitive Surgical to grow in the area of prostate surgery.
Secondly, at the bottom of the website, the hospital says that it "will likely begin using the da Vinci system for other minimally invasive types of surgery, such as cardiovascular, gynecological, pediatric and other FDA-approved procedures." That should tell investors that Intuitive Surgical isn't going to be a one-trick pony.
Robotic surgery might still sound strange to a great many people, but it's a reality and it will only grow more prevalent in the near future. So while others might laugh at the technology, investors in Intuitive Surgical are likely to have the last laugh.
Interested in reading more about Intuitive Surgical? Check out these articles:
- I Love Intuitive Surgical
- The Intuitive Future of Medicine
- Intuitive Surgical and Internet2
- Are Intuitive Surgical and iRobot Just Babies?
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