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The Collective Surgical Consciousness

What if there was a way to make surgery safer, cheaper, and more accessible? Daniel Hashimoto, a surgeon at Mass General Hospital, believes that artificial intelligence is the answer.

In the U.S., almost 1 million surgeries result in accidental injury to major structures every year. Not only are these complications expensive, but they can also result in a serious impact on quality of life. Patients can be hospitalized for long periods of time, have permanent injuries, or even die. Hashimoto says, “When something like that happens, we’ve got to ask ourselves: could this have been prevented?”

When surgeons perform minimally invasive operations, they use a camera to look inside of the abdomen. It occurred to Hashimoto and his colleagues to watch these videos outside of the OR to understand exactly what happened in the surgery. According to Hashimoto, “We took visual data, converted into quantitative data, and modeled it mathematically. The interpretations then could be used to give feedback to surgeons.”

But what if we took this a step farther? An MIT News article about Hashimoto’s work writes, “The system could be applied to any analytical question that doctors deem worthwhile. It could, for instance, be trained to predict when particular medical instruments should be prepared for the surgeon’s use, or it could sound an alert if a surgeon encounters rare, aberrant anatomy.”

What if you could use AI to warn surgeons as it’s watching the operation? That way, surgeons could change their process to avoid complications. The system could function “like a GPS for surgeons.”

Hashimoto calls for a “collective surgical consciousness,” where surgeons pool all of their data and share techniques to teach safer surgical processes. Why not use innovative technology to save lives?

To learn more, watch Hashimoto’s talk here.