The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in surgery is driving a medical revolution that will reduce surgical errors and improve patient outcomes by analyzing recorded video data from thousands of past surgeries around the world.
Earning is a heavy risk burden for the surgeon and the patient. Now imagine if it were possible to harness the surgical experience of thousands of surgeons around the world in a “collective surgical awareness” that would help surgeons anticipate mistakes and make better decisions during surgery.
This exciting scenario is made possible by AI, says Dr. Ozanan Meireles, co-founder and director of the Surgical Artificial Intelligence and Innovation Laboratory at Harvard Medical School’s Massachusetts General Hospital, speaking at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) in Dublin on Friday.
The use of AI in surgery is a transformative moment in the history of surgery, said Dr. Meireles joined his medical colleagues at the RCSI Johnson and Johnson Charter Meeting, held each year to celebrate the granting of a Royal Charter to the RCSI in 1784.
“The first revolution was anesthesia, followed by antiseptic techniques,” said Dr. Meireles.
“The endoscopic procedure ushered in the age of robots and minimally invasive surgery, and now artificial intelligence: the fourth surgical revolution.”
The surgical areas that are already reaping the benefits of AI are those that are relatively uncomplicated, minimally invasive, and require relatively few incisions.
AI has successfully helped surgeons identify polyps that need to be removed during colonoscopy procedures, but has proven far less successful when tested as a potential tool to aid in heart surgery.
The surgical community is exploring many areas where AI could help.
“We had great discussions about the use of AI on the battlefield over dinner yesterday,” said Dr. Meireles.
“Imagine that during a procedure, the machine triggers tele-mentoring by an experienced surgeon to guide you through a procedure.”
In Ireland, AI is being used at the Mater Hospital to better “see” tumors in real time, giving surgeons a far better chance of removing them completely.
A new AI technique was developed by Professor Ronan Cahill, director of the UCD Center for Precision Surgery at Mater Hospital, along with Dr. Jeffrey Dalli and IBM Research.
Prof Cahill is a specialist in colorectal cancer, which affects around 2,800 people in Ireland each year and causes 900 deaths a year. It often takes multiple surgeries to remove a patient’s colon cancer. Using AI, a camera and dyes can help surgeons “see” cancer better and remove it completely the first time.
“A few minutes is enough to determine whether a lesion is cancerous,” said Prof. Cahill.
“If it is, we don’t have to wait for a biopsy, we can remove it immediately. Your best chance is to get the surgery right the first time – it’s the law of diminishing returns if you have to go back and have surgery again,” he added.
Leading surgeons like Dr. Meireles and Prof. Cahill expect AI to be used over the next five to 10 years to significantly improve surgical outcomes in operations that are relatively straightforward and require a large number of incisions. This will reduce surgical errors as the AI can display potential surgical errors in real-time.
The day when the accumulated knowledge of surgeons is available to surgeons everywhere during their surgery through AI systems, no matter where that may be – even on a battlefield – is coming soon.
“Can you imagine the day when we can do that?” Meireles asked his medical colleagues at RCSI on Friday.
“The day we can actually use that collective consciousness to help us avoid making a mistake.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/how-the-use-of-artificial-intelligence-is-driving-medical-revolution-and-reducing-surgical-errors-41657639.html How the use of artificial intelligence is driving the medical revolution and reducing surgical errors