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Artificial Intelligence in Surgery: AI and Cardiothoracic Procedures

By Transonic Staff29 Nov 2023

2023 has been the year of artificial intelligence – at least as far as the headlines are concerned.

Increasingly, AI is supporting the everyday tools we use, from AI-powered personal assistants like Siri to sophisticated credit card fraud alerts to movie streaming recommendations. While much of the recent attention has been on big tech companies and the rapid rise of ChatGPT’s generative AI-powered chatbot, there have also been significant advancements in artificial intelligence in surgery over the past years.

Here are some of the most talked-about cardiothoracic applications of AI, and what they mean for the field as a whole.

The Uses of AI for Surgery

AI’s ability to quickly process huge amounts of data and improve its predictive accuracy over time can be hugely beneficial in the surgical field. There are a few key areas where technological breakthroughs like AI are particularly influential for surgical decision-making.

The article Artificial Intelligence in Cardiac Surgery: A Systematic Review, published in October 2023, gives an overview of artificial intelligence applications in cardiac surgery over the past two decades.

AI is being used to enhance different phases of the patient experience, including:

  • Screenings, imaging and pathology
  • Preoperative risk counseling
  • Support during procedures
  • Post-operative complication prevention
  • Optimize OR efficiency and turnover time

AI During Surgical Procedures

During surgical procedures, computer vision – a subdiscipline of AI engineering that enables computers to analyze data taken from images and videos – is one of the most common uses of AI. This is the basis for robot-assisted surgery.

In the simplest terms, robotic surgery is a system with a camera arm giving the surgeon a view of the surgical site and mechanical arms with surgical instruments attached. There have been recent studies into using machine learning to translate the data from robot motion into surgical skills like suturing and needle-passing.

Another growing use of AI for heart surgeries is during cardiopulmonary (CP) bypass. One use highlighted in The Promise of Artificial Intelligence in Cardiothoracic Surgery is goal-directed perfusion: an algorithmic technique to optimize oxygen delivery and reduce anaerobic respiration, preventing post-surgery complications like acute kidney injury.

General AI applications in the OR seem endless, from optimizing workflows, to predicting case durations to minimizing delays.

The Future of AI for Cardiothoracic Surgeons

AI-powered solutions are developing rapidly, with endless possibilities to better support medical professionals and improve the patient experience. With mounting pressures of greater operational efficiency within hospitals and increased demand for more personalized medical care from patients, AI can be a game-changing way to leverage the wealth of data generated.

The key, though, is that wealth of data.

AI technology lives and breathes data – just like we do, here at Transonic. And just like our measurement solutions offer surgeons critical information to support clinical decision-making, AI is becoming one more tool in the surgeon’s arsenal. Ultimately, as pointed out in “The Future of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Artificial Intelligence,” it takes “human-machine collaboration to improve performance and patient safety.”

To measure is to know and to know is to improve.