Salt Lake City, Utah (ABC4 UTAH) — Intermountain Healthcare is the first health system in Utah to use a new tool that utilizes artificial intelligence to aid doctors in detecting colorectal polyps in real-time during a colonoscopy to help patients fight colon cancer.

This new technology, called GI Genius, is being used at four Intermountain hospitals: Intermountain Heber Valley Hospital, Intermountain Fillmore Hospital, Intermountain Delta Community Hospital, and Intermountain Cedar City Hospital, to improve colorectal polyp detection, remove pre-cancerous colorectal polyps early, and save more lives.

Intermountain and Medtronic, the distributor of the GI Genius intelligent endoscopy module, brought GI Genius and training to the rural communities in Utah thanks to the Health Equity Assistance Program partnership between Medtronic, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and Amazon Web Services.

The artificial intelligence or AI in the GI Genius module contains over 13 million images of polyps of all sizes, shapes and morphologies. In clinical trials, physicians have increased detection of lesions by up to 46% when compared to standard, non-artificial intelligence aided colonoscopy.

“By offering this cutting-edge, high-definition technology to rural Utah communities, we have the potential to detect more colorectal polyps and potentially prevent cancer,” said Nathan A. Merriman, MD, medical director of gastroenterology and digestive health at Intermountain Healthcare. “I see the AI in the GI Genius tool as a great teammate in colorectal polyp detection for all of us performing colonoscopies.”

As part of the Medtronic Health Equity Program for colon cancer screening in underserved communities, Medtronic is placing 133 GI Genius units at 62 hospitals and clinics across the country.

The American Cancer Society, three national GI Societies, and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force all recommend the screening age for patients at average risk for colorectal cancer change from 50 to 45 years old.

When caught early, certain types of colorectal cancer can have a survival rate of up to 91%; however, it remains the third most common and third deadliest cancer among adults in the United States.

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Every day, about 300 people in the United States will be diagnosed with colon cancer and an estimated 50,000 people die from colorectal cancer every year.

“That’s what makes this program so important. We know that missing colorectal polyps could potentially increase the risk of interval colon cancers that occur before the next routine exam,” said Dr. Merriman. “This technology has the potential to help us reduce the chance that we miss a pre-cancerous polyp during a colonoscopy. By improving our ability to see and remove more of these polyps, we create a more positive impact with greater colon cancer prevention for patients and their families.”

Patients undergoing a screening colonoscopy in these four hospitals may be screened with the AI tool at their doctor’s discretion, and at no additional cost.

For more information on colonoscopies, or to find a physician visit The Intermountain Health website or go here.

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