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Artificial Intelligence Could Help GI Doctors Improve Colonoscopies

Rachel Morrell

GI Doctor Using AI Technology

Soon, your GI doctor may have a new assistant in the colonoscopy examination room: artificial intelligence (AI). Colonoscopy is the gold standard for colon cancer screening because it allows gastroenterologists to remove precancerous polyps called adenomas before they can develop into cancer. However, different doctors have different adenoma detection rates. According to new research, AI can help.

A recent study by University of California Irvine Health found that AI can enhance a gastroenterologist’s ability to detect adenomas. Adenoma detection rate (ADR) is the primary quality indicator in colonoscopy, reflecting the percentage of patients in whom a physician detects one or more adenomas during colonoscopy.

William E. Karnes, M.D., partnered with UCI Department of Computer Sciences Professor Pierre Baldi and artificial intelligence experts at DocBot to develop an algorithm to detect early-stage adenomas. The algorithm relied on a comprehensive database of colon polyp images that Dr. Karnes and his gastroenterology research team assembled.

The AI software recognizes developing polyps and alerts the gastroenterologist so that they can be removed. Dr. Karnes expects that adding AI to colonoscopy procedures can increase gastroenterologists’ ADRs and lower overall colon cancer incidence in the United States. For each percentage point increase in ADR, the chance of developing colon cancer decreases by three to six percent. 

Until the AI software receives approval, patients will continue to rely on the expertise and experience of GI physicians. If you’re looking for a qualified gastroenterologist to perform your colonoscopy, ask for his or her adenoma detection rate (ADR). The national average ADR is 25 percent, so you should seek a GI doctor that is above this benchmark.

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