Neurosurgeons use AI to treat brain tumors

Published: Jan. 7, 2020 at 4:14 PM EST
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Neurosurgeons in Miami are using artificial intelligence in a new method to treat brain tumors. The cutting-edge technology is still in clinical trials, but it offers hope.

Medical professionals hoping new cutting edge technology will help neurosurgeons during operations in removing brain tumors.

"This is really the first time we have brought artificial intelligence into the operating room, so it's a very exciting study," said Dr. Michael Ivan with the University of Miami's Sylvester Cancer Center. The center teamed with New York University and the University of Michigan to publish the new study Monday.

Ivan says it offers a more precise way in diagnosing brain tumors during surgery. "It provides us with a faster diagnosis as well as a more accurate diagnosis, so we could make decisions during the surgery sooner," he said.

Through the use of artificial intelligence the new imaging technique reveals tumor infiltration in human tissue by collecting scattered laser light that illuminates essential features not typically seen. "And now with this new technique, we can get that answer in just a few minutes, almost instantaneously. And with artificial intelligence we've been able to get the results with almost 95% accuracy," Ivan said.

By providing results within minutes, the method gives neurosurgeons more precision in completely removing cancerous brain tumors. It also helps inform the surgeon with more rapid and frequent information ensuring the area of interest is 100% cancer free.

"In the few patients where we are really uncertain what we are going to be doing, then it has a major impact either preventing further surgery that is unnecessary or guiding us to the right location," Ivan said.

The traditional methods usually require 20 to 30 minutes to yield results. With the breakthrough procedure doctors will be able to make critical decisions during safe and effective brain tumor surgery in much less time. "So it will shorten the time of surgery and make the surgery more safe for our patients," Ivan said.

Even though the technique is still in its trial phase, the game changing technology is an exciting step forward in the management of brain tumors.

"The artificial intelligence software needs to go through a full FDA approval and this is the first step to kind of take that process through to get final approval. We all think that the doctors here that this is going to have a major impact to help the community around here in south Florida," Ivan said.

Researchers say if approved, the artificial intelligence technology could also be used in other kinds of surgery. The expert analysis could be useful in faster analysis of other kinds of tumors in the future.

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