The American Cancer Society notes that in the United States, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths among both men and women. The society states that colorectal cancer is expected to cause about 52,980 deaths in 2021.

Given its prevalence and lethality, it’s critical to identify colorectal lesions before they become cancerous. Enter GI Genius™ – an intelligent endoscopy that uses artificial intelligence to identify colorectal polyps.

Recently, DocWire News spoke with Giovanni Di Napoli, President, Medtronic Gastrointestinal, to learn more about this game-changing module, which was recently cleared by US Food and Drug Administration. See what he had to say.

DocWire News: Can you talk to us about how GI Genius™ works?

Giovanni Di Napoli: Yes, sure. So just a little bit of the background. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the US, and we as a company are committed to fight this disease. And one of the areas where a lot can be done is improving performance during colonoscopy. So GI Genius is the result of years of work with a company, which is based actually in Italy called Cosma Pharmaceutical, a leader in pharma and drug into the GI. This company developed this artificial intelligence technology using 13,000 different videos to build the algorithms into the device. So the device is very accurate. It’s 99.6% sensitive, which means anytime on the screen, during the colonoscopy, if there is a lesion a green box is going to pop up and it’s going to grab the attention of the endoscopist to focus on this area. And eventually the GI, the endoscopist is going to make the decision whether or not this is a lesion that needs to be removed.

DocWire News: How was the efficacy of GI Genius assessed?

Giovanni Di Napoli: So, great question. We actually have seen many different publications already, but there is one which is very, very important. It’s actually first level of evidence. Randomized control trial is a study that has been performed in Italy by Professor Repici and the study showed that with the use of GI Genius during normal endoscopy colonoscopy procedure versus standard colonoscopy, without GI Genius there is an improvement of 14.4% in detection rate. So the baseline of these endoscopies was already pretty high, expert endoscopies, but this shows that the technology can also help those endoscopists who are skilled in performing colonoscopy even further. This is a very important piece because we as a company, believe that we have to improve a patient outcome with our technology. And this level one evidence is giving very strong reassurance to our customers that this device is working very well.

DocWire News: How important is it to identify colorectal polyps during colonoscopy?

Giovanni Di Napoli: You know, I keep saying not every polyp, not every adenoma becomes cancer, but every cancer used to be an adenoma or polyp. So that gives you the feeling that if you miss a polyp, if you miss an adenoma during the procedure for many different reasons, hard to see, fatigue, fairly challenging procedure because of the anatomy of the patient, there are many reasons, right! If you miss it, what happens before you go for the follow-up, usually it’s five or 10 years or for the follow-up colonoscopy, cancer can develop and it’s called interval cancer.

So imagine this, you as a patient go for a colonoscopy, you get your answer it’s negative and two or three years after you’d have to deal with colon cancer. So most likely this could be because a polyp, an adenoma, was missed during the colonoscopy before, so that’s the reason why it’s very important. This disease is preventable. So if caught early 90% of patients will beat it. And that’s the reason why this technology is truly going to make a big improvement on performance, and also detection rate of what our customers across the country.

DocWire News: How big a role will AI-based systems play in the future of cancer detection, specifically gastrointestinal cancers?

Giovanni Di Napoli: We, as a company, we keep saying and we believe that we need to put the tech back into the med tech, which means, technology like artificial intelligence, are already playing a very important role in many different areas. I think about urologist, breast cancer detection, all of these procedures, they’ve been automized over the last five, seven years. Now GI aids at the early stage of AI, but I can see the future is going to be no colonoscopy performed without AI-assisted technology. There will be additional features and procedures, which can be assisted by artificial intelligence. At the end of the day, the doctor is going to make the final decision, right?

So we are not overcoming this. We’ll never do that, but we’re going to support the decision-making with our technology. Almost like having an angel on your shoulder that doesn’t blink and it’s going to be there when maybe you can be tired, or maybe there is some distraction in the endoscopy suite. And for any reason you can miss a potential lesion. So I think AI is going to help, AI is going to evolve med tech and more to come because investment also for Medtronic as well, we’re investing over $2 billion across the businesses to really bring these technologies in different areas of specialties in medical devices.

DocWire News: Any closing thoughts?

Giovanni Di Napoli: It’s super super exciting for all of us. We are committed. We really want to support our customers across the country. We believe that this technology can help improving performance and improve patient outcome. So thank you very much for the time and the opportunity to talk about this.