Medical Moment: Using AI to increase polyp detection during a colonoscopy

Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 6:40 PM EST
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(WNDU) - Colorectal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer in the U.S.

Because Americans have been getting colon cancer at a younger age, doctors say you should have your first screening at age 45. Now, new technology is detecting more potential cancers than ever before.

Twinique Wright celebrated her 49th birthday with family and friends, knowing a milestone year was on the horizon. For Wright, it was past time to get the health screening she had been avoiding a colonoscopy.

“Every time, I said, ‘Okay, well, I get it done next year or next year, next year.’ It’s four years later. So, I said, ‘No, I have to do it,’” Wright explained.

Wright didn’t know when she scheduled her screening that doctors were using new technology, a smart tool called the G.I. Genius, which uses artificial intelligence during the procedure.

“It’s a box that actually interprets every image, every frame of the colonoscopy in real-time, and alerts the physician in real-time on the screen by a little green box at a little buzzer where it thinks there’s a polyp,” said Rosaria Ligresti, MD, chief of gastroenterology at Hackensack University Medical Center.

Then, the doctor inserts a tiny tool into the scope to remove any polyps.

“We know that the increase in adenoma detection rate, the increase of the ability of the doctor to find more polyps decreases the patient’s risk of getting colon cancer. By adding G.I. Genius, you’re increasing the adenoma detection rate by 14 percent,” said Dr. Ligresti.

Wright’s doctors found nothing suspicious during her screening. For her, something else to celebrate.

“I feel at ease and I’m happy I did get it done, and that just made it that much better,” Wright said.

Little green boxes lighting the way for a better colonoscopy.

The G.I. Genius was FDA-approved in 2021. Dr. Ligresti says the procedure with the new technology might be just a few minutes longer, but otherwise, there is absolutely no difference for the patient. The G.I. Genius is covered in the same way a screening colonoscopy is covered by insurance, so there’s no additional cost to the patient.