The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented number of postponed and cancelled elective surgical procedures in 2020, substantially negatively impacting the general surgery devices market, especially in its worst hit months of April and May. While many of the general surgery device markets returned to pre-pandemic sales volumes and growth rates during H2 2020, the exacerbated backlog of elective procedures due to the pandemic has continued to fuel demand well into H1 2021. GlobalData’s analysis of the market trends thus far in 2021 has revealed that general surgery device sales have continued to increase in both revenue and sales unit volumes and are forecast to maintain this growth pattern well into 2022.

The burden imposed on healthcare systems by the COVID-19 pandemic has varied by country and by region. As such, general surgery procedure volumes and their associated device sales have also varied globally. In the US, the initial wave of the pandemic occurred in April 2020 and led to an almost 50% year-over-year decline in sales of laparoscopic access instruments, such as trocars and retractors, which are frequently used in general surgeries. As elective surgeries resumed in H2 2020 and were being performed at 70% – 90% of pre-COVID-19 rates, most medical devices companies immediately began recouping lost revenue. Thus, overall sales declines for 2020 were not as severe as initially expected.

Now, almost halfway into 2021, the baseline performance of this market has improved since the end of 2020, with sales of general surgery devices on an upwards trajectory in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. For example, during 2020, Medtronic reported revenue losses for its Minimally Invasive Therapies Group business segment (now known as Medical Surgical) of less than 4%. In its recent fiscal Q4, ending on 30 April, Medtronic announced its Medical Surgical business segment had generated revenue of more than $2.3bn, at more than a 20% increase year-over-year and the highest it has been in recent years. This remarkable recovery and sustained growth since Q3 2020 coincide with overall market trends observed for the aforementioned laparoscopic access instruments, with the overall market value continuing to rise in H1 2021, driven by the backlog of demand from the initially postponed and cancelled procedures.

As the ongoing global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines continues and healthcare systems more aggressively address the backlog of demand for elective procedures, GlobalData expects the general surgery devices market to continue to grow in 2021. This rise in market value may continue into 2022, depending on global vaccine distribution and inoculation rates.