Levita Robotic Platform: Interview with Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro, CEO of Levita Magnetics


Levita Magnetics, a California-based company specializing in laparoscopic systems, recently announced that its Levita robotic platform, a surgical robot that is still in development, has been used to perform surgery on a patient for the first time in a hospital in Chile. . The robot uses a magnetic technology similar to that of the company’s Levita hand-held magnetic surgical system.

The technology developed by Levita is to use magnets that are applied externally to control and manipulate devices, such as forceps, that are inserted into the body during laparoscopic surgery. The technique has the advantage of not needing a fixed pivot point to achieve dexterous movements within the body and the company reports that surgery performed in this way requires fewer incisions and reduces patient morbidity.

The new robotic platform combines this magnetic technology with a robotic system for greater comfort and functionality, with the aim of creating a single operator platform. Levita reports that the new system reduces the number of care staff required by a surgeon during a procedure.

Watch a video below showing an animation of the hand-held system in action during a prostate removal procedure:

Medgadget He had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro, founder and CEO of Levita Magnetics, about the technology.

Conn Hastings, Medgadget: Please give us a quick description of laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgery and the benefits it provides for patients and surgeons.

Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro, Levita Magnetics: Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure performed by surgeons to treat patients with abdominal conditions and diseases indicated for surgery. The technique uses a camera, known as a laparoscope, that allows the surgeon to have a view of the inside of the abdominal cavity and use multiple incisions in the abdominal wall to introduce the surgical instruments needed to complete the surgery. It is a common alternative to open surgery, resulting in more intense pain, longer recovery, and large scars. Laparoscopic procedures provide a less invasive procedure for patients.

Medgadget: What is the Levita Magnetic Surgical System and how does it work?

Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro: The Levita Magnetic Surgical System, our first commercial product, is a first system of its kind designed to further minimize the footprint of laparoscopic surgery. Our magnetic technology allows for laparoscopic procedures with even fewer incisions, with proven benefits for the patient that include less pain, faster recovery, and fewer scars. It is the first FDA-authorized magnetic surgical system designed to magnetically capture and retract target tissue in laparoscopic, bariatric, prostatectomy, and colorectal cholecystectomy surgical procedures.

The magnetic system facilitates improved internal access and visualization to the surgical site and allows for a reduced number of incisions and trocars during laparoscopic procedures. The system, which consists of an external hand magnet placed on the skin that controls a detachable clamp without shaft, allows the instruments to move without the limitations of a fixed position pivot point through an incision in the abdomen. The system has been shown clinically to reduce pain and the number of scars and accelerate recovery.

Medgadget: What advantages does the system provide over other laparoscopic surgical technologies?

Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro: Laparoscopic surgery is performed for approximately 40 years without major changes. In recent years, laparoscopic surgeons have sought ways to reduce the number of incisions, or ports, to further enhance the potential benefits of patients with open surgery.

However, port reduction can be associated with technical problems during surgery. As a practicing surgeon, I have seen it first hand over the last decade. In conventional laparoscopic procedures, shaft surgical instruments are inserted using fixed-position trocars inserted through incisions in the abdomen. Shaft instruments can affect the surgeon’s visualization by cluttering the operating field, causing instrument collisions, and restricting movement. The use of trocars can risk injury to the intestine and main vessels and cause incisor pain, bleeding, scarring, hernias, and infections. Magnetic retraction is a very elegant solution to this problem, as it allows the traction or movement of intra-abdominal organs without the restriction of a fixed incision. It is a very versatile technology that improves the ability to move, control and visualize.

Medgadget: Please tell us about the latest technology developed by Levita Magnetics, the Levita robotic platform and the features it offers.

Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro: The Levita robotic platform is taking our proprietary magnetic technology to the next level. It was designed with patients, surgeons and hospitals in mind. We consider it a triple-impact technology as it provides benefits for patients, surgeons and hospitals. For patients, it includes providing the established clinical benefits of the Levita magnetic surgical system, including less pain, faster recovery, and fewer scars; for surgeons, improving visualization and maintaining control of all laparoscopic instruments; and for hospitals, increase the overall efficiency of the hospital with fewer assistants needed to carry out the procedures. We specifically designed the platform for high-volume abdominal surgeries, such as bariatric surgeries and gallbladder removal. Our robotic platform is also designed to be compatible with outpatient surgical centers, as our technology helps allow discharge on the same day as the hospital.

The robot’s own design adapts the hand model of the Levita magnetic surgical system to a fully robotic, single-operator platform. Unlike the traditional robotic model, where the surgeon moves the patient to a console to control the robot, the Levita robot uses a different operating model where the surgeon is next to the patient for the duration of the procedure. It is designed to allow the surgeon to remain fully practical at the procedure site during surgery with less surgical assistance required in the operating room.

We believe that the combination of all these benefits will increase the volume of high quality and efficiently performed procedures that will ultimately improve patient access and reduce waiting times for the surgeries they need.

Medgadget: The Robotic Platform has recently treated its first patient. Give us an overview of the test and how it went.

Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro: Our first clinical study of our Levita robotic platform is currently being conducted in Chile, my home country, and is designed to further optimize the system based on surgeon feedback. The first surgery that was done with the platform was for a patient who needed to remove the gallbladder. As part of the study, this patient received a laparoscopic reduced incision cholecystectomy performed by Dr. Ignacio Robles, a minimally invasive surgeon at the INDISA Clinic in Santiago. The patient was able to return home in less than 24 hours without pain and presented no complications at 30 days of follow-up. Since then, two more patients with acute conditions were admitted to the study and the surgeries were completed on the day they enrolled. We believe that the Levita Robotic Platform adapted well to the currently restricted healthcare environment, with hospital infrastructures and health care providers under significant stress due to the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. While the pandemic conditions are unfortunate, it has had the unplanned effect of highlighting the potential of the Levita robotic platform to increase accessibility and improve the quality of surgery for people who need it.

Medgadget: What are the next steps for the new system? When do you anticipate that it could be available, pending positive results?

Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro: Once the study is completed, we will present the Levita robotic platform to the FDA for approval by the end of 2021. We plan to launch them commercially during the first half of 2022 and we are already in discussions with well-known centers in the US. who will be the first to receive a Levita robotic platform. Following this limited release in the United States, our goal is to reach U.S. national hospitals before launching them internationally to bring this technology to as many patients as possible. Our goal is to change the way surgery is performed worldwide.

Link: Home page of Levita Magnetics …

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