|INTUITIVE SURGICAL INC filed this Form 10-K on 02/02/2018|
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U.S. Gynecology. In 2017, gynecology was our largest U.S. surgical specialty and the procedure volume was approximately 252,000 in 2017, compared with 246,000 in 2016 and 238,000 in 2015. We believe that overall U.S. gynecologic surgery volume for benign conditions (robotic and other modalities) has been pressured in recent years by factors including, but not limited to, a trend by payers toward encouraging conservative disease management, trends towards higher patient deductibles and co-pays, and FDA actions regarding the use of power morcellation in uterine surgeries. Combining robotic, laparoscopic, and vaginal approaches, MIS represents about 80% of the U.S. hysterectomy market for benign conditions, and thus the rate of migration from open surgeries to MIS has slowed. We believe that our modest growth in gynecologic procedures over the past several years was primarily driven by consolidation of surgical volumes into surgeons that focus on cancer and complex surgeries, as well as higher sacrocolpopexy procedure volume.
U.S. General Surgery. In 2017, general surgery was our second largest and fastest growing specialty in the U.S. with procedure volume that grew to approximately 246,000 in 2017, compared with approximately 186,000 in 2016, and 140,000 in 2015. Ventral and inguinal hernia, combined, contributed to the most incremental growth in U.S. general surgery procedures in 2016 and 2017. We believe that growth in da Vinci hernia repair reflects improved clinical outcomes within certain patient populations, as well as potential cost benefits relative to certain alternative treatments. We believe hernia repair procedures represent a significant opportunity with the potential to drive growth in future periods. However, given the differences in complexity among hernia patient populations and varying surgeon opinion regarding optimal surgical technique, it is difficult to estimate the timing of and to what extent da Vinci hernia repair procedure volume will grow in the future. We expect a large portion of hernia repairs will continue to be performed via different modalities of surgery.
Adoption of da Vinci for colorectal procedures, which includes several underlying procedures including low anterior resections for rectal cancers and certain colon procedures for benign and cancerous conditions, has been ongoing for several years, and is supported by our recently launched technologies such as the da Vinci Xi Surgical System, EndoWrist Stapler, EndoWrist Vessel Sealer, and Integrated Table Motion. da Vinci use in cholecystectomy grew modestly in 2017 compared to a modest decline in 2016. 2017 cholecystectomy growth was driven by higher multi-port cholecystectomies, more than offsetting lower Single-Site cholecystectomy volume.
Global Urology. Along with U.S. general surgery, global urology procedures drove our recent procedure growth. dVP is the largest urology procedure in the U.S. and is at various stages of adoption in different areas of the world. We believe our growth in U.S. prostatectomy is largely aligned with new diagnoses of prostate cancer. As the U.S. standard of care for the surgical treatment of prostate cancer, we expect that the number of dVP procedures performed in the U.S. will largely fluctuate with the overall prostatectomy market. dVP is the largest overall OUS procedure.
Kidney cancer procedures have also been a strong contributor to our recent global urology procedure growth. Clinical publications have demonstrated that the presence of a da Vinci system in a hospital or market increases the likelihood that a patient will receive nephron sparing surgery through a partial nephrectomy, which is typically surgical society guideline-recommended therapy.
OUS Procedures. The 2017 OUS procedure growth rate reflects continued da Vinci adoption in European and Asian markets. Growth was strong in Asia and varied by country in Europe. We experienced strong procedure growth in China as systems sold under a previous public hospital quota system have been installed and as utilization of those systems have increased. However, procedure growth is moderating in China. Future system placements and our ability to sustain procedure growth in China are dependent on obtaining additional importation authorizations or public hospital quotas, as well as on hospitals completing a central purchasing tender process under such authorizations. The most recent authorization expired at the end of 2015. The timing and magnitude of future authorizations that may enable future system placements is not certain. We have experienced strong procedure growth in Japan since receiving the national reimbursements, outlined above, for dVP and partial nephrectomy. However, as adoption for these procedures has progressed, procedure growth in Japan is slowing. Future procedure growth in Japan will likely be paced by the timing of procedure reimbursement approvals for procedures as well as the reimbursement levels for any of these procedures in addition to dVP and partial nephrectomy. In January 2018, a committee of the MHLW recommended 12 additional procedures for reimbursement. The reimbursement level for each procedure is uncertain at this time and may be insufficient for broad adoption. In addition, it is possible that procedures will be adopted slowly or not at all, as there can be no assurance that the perceived value of da Vinci procedures is greater than alternative therapies.
Future demand for da Vinci Surgical Systems will be impacted by factors including hospital response to the evolving health care environment under the current U.S. administration, procedure growth rates, hospital consolidation trends, evolving system utilization and point of care dynamics, capital replacement trends, additional reimbursements in various global markets, including Japan, the timing around governmental tenders and authorizations, including China, the timing of when we receive regulatory clearance in our other OUS markets for our Xi Surgical System, X Surgical System, and related instruments as well as other economic and geopolitical factors. Market acceptance of our recently launched X Surgical System may also impact future systems placement. Demand may also be impacted by robotic surgery competition, including from companies that have introduced products
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