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Local hospital uses AI for polyp detection

Mark Parker

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Dr. Mier Mizrahi, director of the hospital’s Advanced Endoscopy Fellowship Program, said the new AI system reduces the chance of missing polyps by 50%. Photos provided.

Colorectal cancer is the third-most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women each year – and HCA Florida Largo Hospital is now utilizing innovative technology to aid in early detection efforts.

The hospital recently announced it is participating in a research study on the effectiveness of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in detecting the presence of polyps when performing colonoscopies. The sooner doctors can identify the polyps, the better odds they have of removing them before they become cancerous and potentially life-threatening.

Dr. Mier Mizrahi, director of the hospital’s Advanced Endoscopy Fellowship Program, said that even with today’s high-definition imaging, it is a known fact that medical professionals still miss around 30% of polyps.

“So, the artificial intelligence – we know by studies and everything that it helps us to reduce the risk of missing polyps by almost 50%,” said Mizrahi.

Mizrahi, also HCA’s West Florida Division’s advanced gastrointestinal medical director, said he spends a significant amount of time on research and development to provide an elevated level of healthcare. With an established reputation as a pioneer for using cutting-edge procedures, he said large companies now approach him to test new technologies. The AI study represents a partnership with FUJIFILM Healthcare Americas Corporation’s endoscopy division.

Mizrahi explained that after physicians complete a colonoscopy, they must tell the patient when they should come in for the next exam, based on the findings.

“If you don’t find polyps, for example, you could go seven to 10 years,” said Mizrahi. “But then, let’s say you miss the polyp – one of that 30% – and guess what happens?

“The patient will come in five to six years with interval cancer.”

Mizrahi said offering the latest healthcare technologies enables the hospital to provide an elevated level of healthcare.

Mizrahi used himself as an example to further explain the benefits of AI and machine learning. As an interventional endoscopy specialist, he has performed over 10,000 colonoscopies and found more than 2,000 polyps.

The AI algorithm, said Mizrahi, remembers data from up to 20 million colonoscopies. He added that every time a doctor uses the system, it learns how to better detect polyps in the future. Combined, he said those two aspects significantly reduce the risk of a physician missing something dangerous.

As the technology is new, Mizrahi said data on the system’s decrease in colorectal cancer rates is still a few years away. However, because it significantly reduces the risk of missing polyps, he said there is no doubt it will also lower the risk of interval cancer.

Mizrahi noted that the system continues learning and improving through every procedure. While this first stage in the program helps aid early detection, he said the next phase could help physicians better understand the polyp’s pathology for removal and treatments.

In addition to healthcare, Mizrahi expects AI to transform many industries worldwide. When asked if he believes utilizing AI and new technologies could help save lives, he said, “I’m sure we’re doing it.”

“We believe that’s how we can serve our patients better,” he said. “It is just the tip of the iceberg, what we are talking about here.”

Utilizing new technology is also beneficial for HCA Florida Largo Hospital’s business. Mizrahi said the news about the AI study, announced on Aug. 4, has generated a significant amount of national publicity for the facility.

Mizrahi noted that innovative procedures pique the interest of patients seeking the highest level of care. He has already received calls from people wanting their next colonoscopy to feature the new AI system.

While FUJIFILM is a global corporation, Mizrahi also keeps an eye out for local businesses offering new healthcare products. He relayed that Largo Hospital works closely with a Clearwater-based company that produces various gastrointestinal devices, and physicians offer feedback to improve the patient experience.

“That helps to treat our patients on the best cutting-edge options,” said Mizrahi. “And definitely, it helps to attract patients because people understand what they can get today – it’s very easy to Google and Bing … ”

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