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Surgery in a post-lockdown world – how AI has helped tackle the backlog

After many surgeries were delayed due to COVID-19, find out how surgeons are creating interactive 3D anatomy models using AI to help them perform safe and effective procedures and overcome the backlog of patients.

AI in GSTTRecent research predicts that delays in cancer treatment and diagnosis due to COVID-19 could result in up to 36,000 preventable deaths, making it one of the most pressing issues for the NHS as it resume services and treatment for patients.

Up to 34% of abdominal cancer surgeries have major complications, which are potentially life threatening to patients and cost the NHS around £310 million each year.

Surgeons at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, such as Mr Ben Challacombe, Mr Prokar Dasgupta, and Mr Andrea Billè, are working with Innersight Labs to integrate AI technologies safely in surgery to handle the backlog of surgeries due to COVID-19.

Innersight Labs, an industry partner of the London Medical Imaging and Artificial Intelligence Centre for Value Based Healthcare (AI Centre), is sharing its AI powered modelling technology, Innersight3D, to help guide surgeons through complex operations and deal with the backlog of cases delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Mr Ben Challacombe, consultant urological surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, has begun using Innersight3D to operate. The software tool uses AI to create interactive 3D anatomy models from existing CT and MRI scans. The models help surgeons to gain a complete picture of the patient’s anatomy before surgery and allows them to perform safer, high-precision procedures with reduced risk of complications.

Part of the way it helps is by removing the guesswork surgeons sometimes face navigating complex vascular systems. Vitally for patients, it plays a role in involving them in their care and outcomes – providing them with a better understanding of their health and helping to virtually show them exactly how a tumour is impacting them.

Surgeons are using Innersight3D to tackle the urgent backlog of cancer surgeries after COVID-19 significantly reduced capacity to continue routine hospital operations, and vulnerable patients were shielded from attending sites that were tackling the virus.

Eoin Hyde, CEO of Innersight Labs, said:

The current crisis has delayed some cancer surgeries for three months now, which is a serious and significant delay given some tumours can double in size during that time period.
What would have been straightforward operations three months ago have now advanced into complex cases requiring high precision surgery. Innersight3D helps surgical teams make informed choices that ensure the best outcome for the patient.

The AI Centre is working with Innersight Labs to further develop and test the feasibility of Innersight3D in both kidney and lung surgeries in collaboration with Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust surgeons.

Drawing on its extensive AI technology infrastructure and access to imaging records, the AI Centre project will help improve the accuracy and reliability of the AI algorithm the software uses to create 3D anatomy models.

Mr Ben Challacombe, consultant urological surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust, said:

This is a perfect example of how AI technologies can be integrated into clinical workflows quickly and easily, and significantly improve surgeon performance. Our work with the AI Centre will help us test and refine the tool so more surgeons and ultimately patients can benefit from its adoption.

The project is one of several areas of work led by the AI Centre that demonstrate how AI can be used to improve clinical pathways and deliver value for the NHS.

King’s Health Partners is a member of the AI Centre consortium, led by King’s College London and based at St Thomas’ hospital, which brings together academic, health and industry partners to develop and deploy innovative AI products in clinical practice.

To read the full story, visit the King’s College London website.

Stay up to date on how King’s Health Partners are using informatics to join up care, research and education, by visiting our website.