World’s First Series of Robotic Telecollaborative Surgeries Performed With Computer Motion’s SOCRATES System

March 9, 2001

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Computer Motion Inc. (Nasdaq: RBOT), the leader and pioneer in medical robotics, announced that a London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) team of surgeons in London, Ontario, Canada performed the world’s first series of telecollaborative surgeries using Computer Motion’s SOCRATES™ Telecollaborative System.

To date a total of six robotically assisted procedures have been completed with the surgical mentor telecollaborating from the University Campus and the operative surgeon performing the procedure at the Westminster Campus, some 15 miles away:

  • Drs. Douglas Boyd, Alan Menkis and Reiza Rayman completed a

    mitral valve repair and two heart bypass surgeries;

  • Drs. Brian Taylor and Winston Hewitt performed an appendectomy

    procedure; and

  • Drs. Richard Inculet and Richard Malthaner completed a lung

    biopsy and a lung resection procedure.

      The medical community agrees that one of the most effective ways for surgeons to learn new procedures is directly from another surgeon. As a result, surgeon champions are routinely called upon to lend their clinical expertise and direction to surgeons who are still gaining expertise in advanced or complex procedures. Often, there are travel costs and scheduling challenges associated with this method.

      There has been a growing interest in finding a better way to economically and effectively augment minimally invasive and conventional “open” surgical training. Standard teleconferencing systems are proving to be inadequate to the task of transmitting a clear, steady, non-pixelated operative image for the remote surgeon.

      The Computer Motion SOCRATES system eliminates these and other problems. SOCRATES provides the remote surgeon access to a precise and stable image via Computer Motion’s AESOP(R) Endoscope Positioner plus much more.

      Yulun Wang, Ph.D., founder and chief technical officer of Computer Motion, commented, “Computer Motion has taken telecommunications one important step further by developing the SOCRATES system to eliminate the distance barrier for physical interaction, enabling a new class of training and education required for the advancement of open and endoscopic surgical techniques. In the late 1980s and early 1990s when the medical community realized the full significance of laparopscopy for patients, thousands of surgeons had to learn new surgical techniques. This situation is repeating itself as emerging technology is enabling new advanced surgical procedures that yield improved patient outcomes across a broad range of surgical disciplines. We now sit on the threshold of another training and education opportunity, and Computer Motion is uniquely positioned to facilitate the necessary transfer of knowledge with our SOCRATES, AESOP and HERMES technologies.”

      “SOCRATES is a huge step beyond just sharing audio and video feedback via teleconference,” said Dr. Ken Harris, chief of surgery at LHSC. “For the first time, the mentoring surgeon is able to actively participate in a `hands-on’ manner from a remote location. This translates to a very economical and effective method to shorten the learning curve for surgeons applying new surgical techniques to their practice. SOCRATES also facilitates the expansion of minimally invasive surgery into areas that may not currently have access to or the budget for surgical experts. This is something that patients around the world will benefit from.”

      LHSC is comprised of three separate sites across the city of London, Ontario. “This is a splendid example of the innovative spirit at this hospital,” said Tony Dagnone, president and CEO of LHSC. “The positive impacts to patient care delivery as a result of the telementoring approach are astounding. We believe the SOCRATES technology will someday mean patients will be able to access the care they need closer to home in their community hospitals. Beyond our region, this technology will also allow us to share with and learn from other world-class healthcare providers. LHSC is committed to pursuing robotically assisted surgeries because we believe it is in the best interest of patients for improved outcomes and quality of life,” Dagnone added.

      Early development work on Computer Motion’s telerobotic systems began in 1996 when Johns Hopkins University, under the direction of Dr. Louis Kavoussi, pioneered the development of telerobotics with Computer Motion’s first telerobotic system, the AESOP(R) 1000 TS. Johns Hopkins was the first institution to use Computer Motion’s telerobotic system in multi-center U.S. and transcontinental clinical trials. Dr. Kavoussi and a number of notable surgeons, including Dr. Peter Schulam of University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, published their initial telerobotic experience and continue to work with the technology today.

      Several other world-class institutes, including the Medical College of Virginia and the Medical University of South Carolina, have partnered with Computer Motion in the development and testing of SOCRATES. The new system is currently under FDA regulatory review.

      Dr. Wang stated, “Computer Motion has developed and is continuing to expand our suite of products to serve two main goals: 1) to enable improved minimally invasive surgical procedures, and 2) to provide an effective training and education pathway by which surgeons can evolve their surgical techniques. SOCRATES is a major milestone for Computer Motion.”

      About Computer Motion

      Computer Motion is a high-tech medical device company evolving surgical practices to enhance patient lives. The company develops, manufactures and markets proprietary computer-enhanced and robotic surgical systems, which enhance surgeons’ capabilities, improve outcomes and reduce costs.

      In addition to SOCRATES, Computer Motion’s products include the voice-controlled AESOP(R) Endoscope Positioner, the first FDA-cleared surgical robot; the HERMES(TM) Control Center, a centralized system which enables the surgeon to voice control a network of “smart” medical devices; and the ZEUS(TM) Robotic Surgical System for new minimally invasive microsurgery procedures, such as endoscopic, beating heart bypass surgery. The ZEUS System is CE-Marked for commercial sale in the European Community and is co-marketed by Computer Motion and Medtronic (NYSE: MDT).

      Computer Motion has completed an FDA-approved Phase 1 Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) coronary bypass study and has begun a pivotal, randomized multi-center coronary bypass study. In addition, two other multi-center studies have begun for general laparoscopic and thoracoscopic clearance of the ZEUS System. The company has also initiated single-site IDE studies in mitral valve surgery and fallopian tube reanastomosis with the ZEUS System.

      Computer Motion’s Web site is

      Contact Information

      Computer Motion

      Gordon Rogers, 805/968-9600, ext. 155 (CFO)

      Holley Malia

      805/968-9600, ext. 179 (Public Relations)

      This news release contains forward-looking statements concerning the company’s business and products. Actual results may differ materially depending on a number of risk factors, including the risks of competition and competing technologies, duration or suspension of clinical studies, regulatory clearances and approvals, and physician, hospital and payor acceptance of the company’s products. These factors and other risks inherent in the company’s business are described from time to time in the company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K. The company undertakes no obligation to revise the forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.