Smith & Nephew acquire robotic surgery company

UK-based medical equipment manufacturer Smith & Nephew has announced this week an acquisition in the field of robotic surgery.

The company will reportedly purchase US-based robotics company Blue Belt Technologies for the cost of $275m.

Blue Belt Technologies produces a specialised medical system that it calls Navio, which allows for robotically-assisted knee-replacement surgeries.

Their device takes detailed scans of a patient’s leg as well as their bones, before forming a 3D map of their internal structure. This information then is fed to a handheld robotic device which allows a surgeon to conduct highly precise drilling and bone replacement.

Smith & Nephew is interested in this technology as it is already the European leader in the sale of artificial knees and hips.

The company hopes that through the use of robotics, it can help bring its joint replacements to a greater number of patients.

“Our experience working with Blue Belt Technologies and our customer insight has convinced us that robotics will become increasingly mainstream across orthopaedic reconstruction in the foreseeable future,” said Olivier Bohuon, CEO of Smith & Nephew

“This acquisition is a compelling strategic move, with the combination of complementary products and R&D programmes creating a platform from which we can shape this exciting new area of surgery”

Smith & Nephew’s acquisition was also driven by a similar purchase made by orthopaedics competitor Stryker, who in 2013 bought Mako, another surgical robot company.

Mako also produces a similar robot-assisted surgery system to Blue Belt, called the RIO, and thus Smith & Nephew are looking to maintain competitiveness in this new area of robotics.

Nonetheless, the company made it clear that they believe that Blue Belt’s Navio device is superior, due to both its lower price point, and its increased portability.

Into the future, Smith & Nephew has stated that they are looking to use Blue Belt’s expertise to create more specialised medical robots for different joint replacement surgeries.