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Central Virginia VA brings artificial intelligence to fight against cancer

GI team poses with the Director next to the GI Genius
Executive Director J. Ronald Johnson, third from left, and Dr. Michael Fuchs, second from left, surround the GI Genius module recently acquired at Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS). GI Genius, a product from Medtronic, harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) during a colonoscopy to assist doctors in recognizing and diagnosing cancerous growth.

Doctors at Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS) recently implemented a new medical device that uses artificial intelligence (AI) during colonoscopies to assist in recognizing and diagnosing cancerous growth.

Doctors at Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS) recently implemented a new medical device that uses artificial intelligence (AI) during colonoscopies to assist in recognizing and diagnosing cancerous growth.

In June, CVHCS’ main hospital, McGuire VA Medical Center, in Richmond, Virginia became the first hospital in the U.S. to purchase and incorporate the GI Genius intelligent endoscopy module into colorectal screenings for Veterans.

“We’re privileged to introduce this innovative new tool to our patients,” said Dr. Michael Fuchs, Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. “The message is clear: identifying more polyps during colonoscopies leads to increased cancer detection.”

According to Fuchs, CVHCS performs an average of 2,500 colonoscopies per year, and the main challenge is to correctly distinguish concerning polyps from surrounding healthy tissue.

“When the AI detects an abnormality, a visual and audible signal is generated to alert the endoscopist,” Fuchs explained. “This assisted technology increases the ability of the endoscopist to detect these serious lesions outside of the field of vision.”

GI Genius is currently the only FDA-approved, computer-aided detection system available on the commercial market, and it is easily integrated with existing colonoscopy platforms. This technology was designed by Medtronic, a company specializing in electronic and medical devices for the past 70 years.

The computer-aided detection system can precisely recognize surface characteristics, similar to the concept of facial recognition software, Fuchs explained.

Then, part of GI Genius’ magic comes from in-depth algorithms developed from images of more than 13 million polyps of varying shapes and sizes. As this dataset of polyp images grows, the AI will learn and become better.

“This device and future modifications will make AI an integrative tool used in all aspects of medicine,” Fuchs explained. “Such technology will lead to better quality and outcomes for our Veterans.”

Informed by the latest data and scientific study, the medical community now recommends screening for colorectal cancer by age 45 for most people, he added.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., and colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. GI Genius has demonstrated increased detection rates of dangerous abnormalities.

When detected early, doctors can perform curative treatments on any pre-cancerous lesions. The goal is to locate any lumps or bumps in the colon that could grow into cancer.

Fuchs said he is certain this new technology will help Veterans receiving care at CVHCS.

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