Medical devices and robots have made their way into operating rooms for an increasing number of procedures. Now a new robot is trying to make its way into the operating room and help surgeons who don’t already have that advantage.
“There are surgeons who don’t really have robotic assistance at all,” said Bruce Lichorowic, executive director of robotics doctor. “So there are surgeons who are still doing everything by hand, using their training to keep their tremor in check to keep them stable. Our goal is to see if we can help them in these areas where there really isn’t any help today.”
The company’s first robot aims to assist in soft tissue surgeries. Called Galen ES, it acts as a support for surgeons performing ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeries, particularly laryngeal cancer operations. Interchangeable instruments follow the movements of the surgeon’s hand but allow the user to take a break if necessary. According to Lichorowic, the goal is to get more clearances to assist in other ENT, brain, spine, and cardiothoracic procedures.
The Galen ES fills a person’s space, and the company claims it takes no more than four minutes to set up. While the device is in use, it tracks and records a surgeon’s movements for later use for training purposes.
The product is currently under review by the FDA for clinical use approval, which the company said it expects to arrive in the first or second quarter of 2023. Although the product is under review, a 2019 study showed that surgeons who used the device performed better and had about a 3x increase in manual dexterity.
The Da Vinci Surgical System opened the market for the adoption of surgical robots. Subsequently, other robots have entered the market, serving the needs of general, cardiac, and orthopedic surgery. According to Galen, his robot will be the first to tackle neurosurgery and spinal surgeries, once clearance is obtained.
Hospitals that adopt the robot must commit to using the device in 200 cases and pay more than $1,500 per use. However, if a hospital wants to buy the robot outright, it can do so with $350,000.
Surgeons from Stanford, Harvard Medical School, UCSF, USC and Johns Hopkins have all expressed interest in the product, according to Galen. The device was originally developed and tested at Johns Hopkins.
Galen secured support in the form of a $15 million Series A round from Ambix Healthcare Partners. The company also opened a second closing for its Series A, hoping to raise an additional $5 million.
“We watched this team take an early surgical robotic prototype from the Johns Hopkins University robotics lab, turn it into a potential game changer, and send it to the FDA, all during a pandemic,” said Aaron Berez, managing director of Ambix Healthcare Partners. , in a written statement. “Add to that the current state of supply chain issues and economic uncertainty, and we are very impressed with how consistently this team was able to execute and hit their milestones.”
Funds from this round will be used to develop a surgeon training program and expand various teams within the company.