The NHS is trialling an artificial intelligence (AI) solution, which allows surgeons to rehearse brain aneurysms procedures.

British startup Oxford Heartbeat designed the PreSize technology, which has been used at Leeds Teaching Hospitals and is due to be trialled in six other NHS trusts. The medical device software helps to plan neurovascular surgeries by predicting the behaviour of a particular stent in a patient’s anatomy.

It automatically creates an accurate 3D model of the patient’s vessel tree and indicates where a stent should start and finish in the vessel model, allowing the surgeon to select the best option from a library of all certified stents. In a study based on more than 250 real stenting procedures performed across seven hospitals, the tool had a precision rate of 96.75%.

NHSX and the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) are supporting the new technology through the NHS AI Lab.

WHY IT MATTERS

Brain aneurysms have complex mechanical structures and are typically just a few millimetres in size, meaning they can behave unpredictably when inserted. Until now, there has been no consistent or accurate way for clinicians to select the best stent for each patient.

Choosing the wrong stent could lead to life-threatening outcomes for the patient, including strokes. This technology can help surgeons to plan the optimal stent to use, therefore improving the safety of neurovascular surgery for patients and saving money for the NHS.

THE LARGER CONTEXT 

Meanwhile virtual reality (VR) surgical training tool Osso VR recently launched a new multimodal assessment tool, which allows lets students and clinicians to test their understanding of specific workflows and how to react if something goes wrong during an operation.

UK companies FundamentalVR and Touch Surgery have also both created platforms that use VR to help surgeons practice their skills. Prof Tufail Patankar, leading consultant interventional neuroradiologist (INR), Leeds Teaching Hospitals and chief investigator for this study, said:

“Better informed preparation and technical support can help us clinicians deliver the best treatment choice personalised for each patient, making treatment of aneurysms, especially complex ones, safer and quicker.”

Matthew Gould, CEO of NHSX, said:

“Repairing brain aneurysms is a particularly delicate and high-risk procedure, but using this AI could give our skilled surgical teams an important additional tool that should lead to better outcomes, fewer strokes and fuller recoveries.”

Dr Indra Joshi, director of the NHS AI Lab at NHSX, also commented that supporting clinicians to plan their surgeries, reduce stress during procedures, and potentially improve outcomes for patients are just three of the many possible benefits the technology could bring to the NHS. Prof Shafi Ahmed, CMO of Medical Realities, commented:

“Navigation tools based on AI are going to be essential in performing procedures with precision in the future. This platform allowed the doctor to practice the technique in a simulated environment which should improve accuracy and ultimately safety. I welcome these technologies that offer better outcomes for the patients.”

Dr Katerina Spranger, CEO of Oxford Heartbeat, said that they always put the needs of patients and the NHS first. Their technology will bring direct benefits to surgeons and patients whilst improving standards for the delivery of care.

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