Since the start of the year, some surgeons and residents at UC San Diego Health have had access to a new surgical resource: reams of video recordings of them performing operations, parsed by artificial intelligence.
Video recordings of procedures are uploaded to the cloud for quick analysis. The five surgeons involved in the project and their residents then receive videos of their minimally invasive procedures, which are divided into critical steps with a dashboard that compares an operation against previous procedures. The system pixelates distinguishing features of patients and staff, such as faces and tattoos, to de-identify them.
All done with the assistance of AI. “It’s giving active feedback on how your operation performed,” said Dr. Santiago Horgan, chief of the minimally invasive surgery division and director of the Center for the Future of Surgery at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
UC San Diego Health, which went live with the AI tool in two of its operating rooms in February, is one of a growing number of health systems introducing AI into the OR.
AI-assisted surgery has been an area of gradual growth, starting with tools that support care teams with preoperative planning and postoperative evaluation—but it’s laying the groundwork for the next phase of surgical innovation, which could include real-time intra-operative clinical decision support and even some automation, experts say.
“Surgery and AI will go hand-in-hand,” said Dr. Vipul Patel, medical director of AdventHealth’s Global Robotics Institute. “I think you’re going to have to have artificial intelligence (in order) for surgery to evolve.”
AI in recent years has been used to identify problems in medical images as part of planning for surgery and to review procedures after the fact, but use in the OR has been more limited.