Bringing AI to the Operating Room

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By developing the first real-time AI system for use in operating rooms, a British medtech start-up is helping push forward the quality and precision of surgical care, as well as potentially paving the way for many more patients in developing nations to access this care.

“The impact of a technology leap like this is astounding. Digital Surgery is creating the technologies that will drive the ‘integrated operating rooms’ and robotic systems of the future”

Daniel Buchbinder, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

In a huge step towards bringing reliable and affordable surgical care to patients across the globe, London-based medtech start-up, Digital Surgery, has successfully launched the first real-time artificial-intelligence (AI) system for operating room usage. The revolutionary platform is designed to aid surgeons and reduce risk by utilizing cameras and computer vision to recognize actions during surgery while simultaneously cross-referencing and correlating the anatomy of the patient against massive amounts of data from an extensive library of surgical guidelines.

The reference tool is providing surgical teams with real-time analysis via audio and visual cues which will help them navigate the operating room and make more informed decisions. Digital Surgery is also developing algorithms that will power the future of complex medical procedures in what its co-founder, Dr Jean Nehme, has described as the ‘Google Maps’ of surgery.

This new tool has the potential to expand access to surgical care to patients in developing nations which currently lack the professionals or infrastructure to provide it. There are an estimated five billion people around the world who do not have access to safe surgical care. “We’re driven by the mission to make surgical care accessible for all patients globally,” says Nehme. Digital Surgery believes that emerging technologies such as robotics and telemedicine platforms will help scale-up healthcare services worldwide.

“This is a huge milestone for the future of surgery because it lays the foundation for how AI and computer vision will support surgical teams to deliver safer surgeries”

Jean Nehme, Digital Surgery

“This is a huge milestone for the future of surgery because it lays the foundation for how AI and computer vision will support surgical teams to deliver safer surgeries,” continues Nehme. “It also enables the next generation of robotic surgery, giving these future systems the capability to function more intelligently and safely…With AI, we have the unique ability to scale global surgical best practices.”

Commenting on the platform, Dr Daniel Buchbinder of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York states, “The impact of a technology leap like this is astounding. Digital Surgery is creating the technologies that will drive the ‘integrated operating rooms’ and robotic systems of the future.”

Dr Sanjay Purkayastha, a surgeon at Imperial College London, who has already used the system during a bariatric procedure is similarly enthused about the potential of the technology. “In the next five years, I expect there to be a transformation from non-AI to AI supported surgery as common practice, benefiting training, patient safety, data collection and outcomes analysis.” Purkayastha continues, “This is something my OR teams, clinical teams and I would look forward to and will truly impact patient care.”

Writer: Joseph Kun

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