The number of procedures using Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci robotic surgical system rose 9% in 2014 even as the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company faced an increasing number of safety questions raised by U.S. regulators and patients.
About 570,000 procedures were performed using its technology in 2014, Intuitive Surgical reported in unaudited preliminary results released Tuesday, up from 523,000 robotic surgeries performed in 2013. Intuitive's robotic system, the da Vinci, is the only robotic surgical system approved for the U.S. market.
The company attributed the growth to an increased number of general surgery procedures in the U.S. and more urologic procedures performed worldwide. It did not break out the number of procedures by geographic market.
It expects between 7% and 10% procedure growth in 2015, the company announced, less than the 16% in procedure growth that the company reported in 2013.
But even as the number of procedures grew last year, sales of new systems dropped 21% in 2014 and annual revenue fell by 6% to $2.1 billion. The company sold 431 systems last year compared to 546 in 2013.
The company's flagship product is the da Vinci. In recent years, dozens of patients have filed product liability lawsuits. Clinical groups, such as the influential American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have pushed back against the manufacturer's claims of outcomes compared with other surgical alternatives as well as the higher costs associated with robotic surgery for routine hysterectomies, one of the most common procedures performed using the da Vinci.
Intuitive is expected to report financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2014 on Jan. 22.
Follow Jaimy Lee on Twitter: @MHjlee