BOSTON — Activ Surgical Inc. today announced ActivEdge, a platform designed to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve surgical procedures and outcomes. The company said it will be available initially in the U.S. and next year worldwide.
“The future of surgery is collaborative, with human judgment and wisdom augmented by robotics precision,” said Todd Usen, CEO of Activ Surgical. “With nearly 400,000 deaths in the U.S. every year due to avoidable medical errors, our surgical intelligence platform is designed to dramatically improve outcomes, safety, and accessibility by arming surgeons with real-time information to make better-informed decisions. We look forward to empowering global access to best-in-class surgery, regardless of location — saving millions of lives in the process.”
Preventable medical errors are currently the third leading cause of death, after heart attacks and cancer, noted the company. Surgical errors account for 26% of these errors and are estimated to cost more than $36 billion in the U.S.
ActivSight built on ActivEdge platform
Activ Surgical said its product portfolio, built on the ActiveEdge platform, includes hardware-agnostic imaging software and computer-driven guidance systems, both for scopes and surgical robots, to improve situational awareness and real-time imaging during operations and to enable safe tissue access.
ActivSight, the first product based on ActivEdge, is designed to be easy to adapt. It works with any installed visualization system to provide intra-operative visual data and images not available to surgeons through existing technologies, said the company.
The imaging module is designed to easily attach to current laparoscopic and arthroscopic systems and is integrated into standard monitors. It can provide on-demand insights so outcomes can be improved immediately, claimed Activ Surgical. With ActivSight, surgeons can see blood flow in real time with no workflow impact, unlike indocyanine green (ICG) injections.
“Innovation in the surgical vision category is long overdue,” said Dr. Peter Kim, co-founder and chief science officer of Activ Surgical. “The most commonly employed surgical imaging process, ICG, uses fluorescent dye invented more than 70 years ago and does not offer real-time, objective physiologic information to surgeons when they critically need it during procedures.”
“[The product] is designed to empower surgeons to make better informed decisions by offering real-time intelligence and visualization to dramatically reduce medical complications and surgical errors,” he added.
Activ Surgical said it expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve ActivSight in 2020. To date, eight major hospital networks across the U.S. have been established as pilot sites.
Activ Surgical focuses on common procedures
Activ Surgical said it is first focusing on the 2.2 million most common laparoscopic procedures, including cholecystectomy, colectomy, hysterectomy, and gastrectomy, where blood flow and critical structure identification are crucial to optimal outcomes.
“The next frontier in surgery is advanced imaging, led by innovation from companies like Activ Surgical, to enable intraoperative imaging and image overlays, guided by machine learning,” said Dr. Vipul (Vip) Patel, medical director of the Global Robotics Institute at Advent Health Celebration. He is also medical director of the Advent Health Cancer Institute Urologic Oncology Program and an Activ Surgical advisory board member.
“The potential for Activ Surgical to use AI and machine learning to inform robotics-assisted surgery — bringing together the best of human judgment and wisdom augmented by robotics precision — is a game changer in helping the surgical community achieve better outcomes,” Patel said.
“As a surgeon, I rely heavily on surgical imaging to make informed decisions regarding procedures,” noted Dr. Steven D. Schwaitzberg, chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University at Buffalo and an Activ Surgical advisory board member. “Now that the majority of imaging systems have achieved optimal optical resolution, the next phase of innovation will be driven by companies like Activ Surgical who are developing new value-added features, including the visualization of tissue perfusion.”
More surgical visualization products to come
ActivInsight, the company’s second product built on ActivEdge, is intended to transform massive amounts of data gathered intra-operatively to help characterize tissue and critical structures. It will use AI and machine learning to provide surgeons with augmented visuals and real-time guidance, said Activ Surgical, which raised $11 million last year.
The company added that it is designing ActivInsight for continuous improvement, and it will be built on one of the industry’s largest annotated data sets, which it will develop over the next 12 months. ActivSurgical said it expects ActivInsight to be available within the next two years.
The company said it is also actively developing ActivAssist and ActivPilot for robot-assisted surgery. ActivAssist will use machine learning based on the ActivInsight data set to optimally position scopes, allowing surgeons to perform at the highest level, said the company.
ActivPilot s intended to perform autonomous procedures with a surgeon in the loop to consistently achieve the best outcomes possible. No release dates for these early-stage offerings were available at press time.