Transenterix, a maker of robotic surgical systems that competes with industry pioneer innovative surgical, said on Thursday that it has been approved by the FDA for its small instruments for minimally invasive surgery.

The FDA has approved 3mm and 5mm instruments for the senhance system, a medical device manufacturer, to allow surgeons to operate through smaller incisions that are almost scarless for patients. Senhance system was approved by FDA one year ago for laparoscopic gynecological surgery, colorectal surgery, cholecystectomy and inguinal hernia repair.

Transenterix became Goliath of David to Intuitive Surgical. At that time, the start-up company transformed the giant of surgery with Da Vinci robot launched in 2000. Transenterix positioned itself as a more affordable alternative to robot assisted surgery, with reusable instruments and open platform architecture.

Transenterix is FDA approved for small medical devices

The strategy is beginning to get traction. Earlier this month, transenterix announced the sale of four senhance systems in the third quarter, with initial revenue of $5.4 million. Last month, the North Carolina based company said it would acquire assets from MST medical surgery technologies, a software developer for advanced visualization, scene recognition, artificial intelligence and data analysis.

By winning approval to launch an expanded set of small devices for endoscopic treatment of tissue – a surgeon’s requirement – transenterix gained another selling point to differentiate it from intuitive.

“The use of 3mm micro instruments on robotic systems represents a new development in reducing the invasive nature of many surgeries,” Steven McCullough, director of gynecological surgery at the Florida hospital celebration health center, said at a news conference. “Surgeons may find that using this micro instrument to precisely control the digital interface makes micro laparoscopy the preferred treatment for more diseases.”

It is expected that new competitors will flow into the robotic surgery market in the next few years. Last month, Medtronic announced the acquisition of mazor Robotis, a maker of spinal surgical robotic systems, and is developing a robot that can compete directly with intuitive Da Vinci. Other market focused companies include Johnson & Johnson and Google’s verb surgical partnership, auris health, Titan medical, medrobotics and accuray.

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