South Korea develops first surgery robots

A Korean company has gained the green light to market a surgical robot, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS).

The MFDS said it has approved Meere Company’s robot-assisted surgery system named “Revo-i” after checking various factors including safety.

“This product is made to use four robotic arms to recognize surgical fields as well as to make incisions and sutures,” an MFDS official said.

According to Meere Company, Revo-i is designed to allow doctors to put robotic tools into a patient’s body through an incision and be operated by a surgeon using a monitor and three-dimensional images. It is designed for endoscopic operations such as cholecystectomies and prostatectomies.

Thanks to the unprecedented benefits of using advanced robotic equipment in medical operations, the market for surgical robots such as Revo-i is rapidly growing globally.

According to market tracker “Markets and Markets,” the global market for medical robots will reach $11.4 billion by 2020, up from $4.2 billion in 2015, growing by 22.2 percent every year on average. The U.S. Economic Cycle Research Institute picked surgical robots as one of the 10 innovations in 2016.

In the meantime, surgical robots worth 19.6 billion won were imported to the local market in 2016, up 34 percent from 14.6 billion won the year before.

“We are seeing more imported surgical robots in the domestic market recently,” an industry source said. “The approval of a new surgical robot, developed and made domestically, may encourage medical institutions to choose Korean products instead of imported ones.”

Established in 1984, Meere Company has developed and produced semiconductors, solar cells and laser processing equipment as well as display devices for three dimensional imaging.

Meere Company established a subsidiary named Raebo in 2007 to develop the new surgical robot system. It received approval for clinical testing of the new system from the MFDS and completed the test in March.

MFDS said Revo-i was released under the ministry’s support project for new medical equipment. The project backed Meere Company to design and test the clinical device and receive government approval.

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