Researchers from King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are trialling an artificial intelligence (AI) tool designed to support the analysis of endoscopy findings by helping doctors identify abnormalities to speed up diagnoses.

The trial will be exploring how an AI platform could improve patient outcomes, with faster diagnosis and quicker treatment for colorectal cancers.

Starting this summer, the trial will run until late 2024. The platform will be used by endoscopists at King’s College Hospital to highlight precancerous lesions with a visual marker in real-time. Images will be processed using advanced algorithms that are able to identify and mark abnormalities with polyps.

The technology involved in the trial is the GI Genius, an intelligent endoscopy module from Cosmo Pharmaceuticals and distributed by Medtronic. It uses computer-aided detection (CADe) to process colonoscopy images in milliseconds. As an invaluable ‘second pair of eyes’ GI Genius can identify even the most subtle of potential lesions, clearly highlighting it on the endoscopy display.

If the platform detects a potential lesion, computer-aided diagnosis (CADx) is then used to reliably predict the histopathology of identified polyps, to help prevent unnecessary polypectomies.

This complex neural network was created using videos of 2,684 histologically-confirmed polyps from 840 patients who underwent high-definition white-light colonoscopy in a previous randomised controlled study.

Dr Bu Hayee, consultant gastroenterologist and principle investigator of the study at King’s College Hospital, said: “I’m pleased to be working on this project to establish whether the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in colonoscopy might influence endoscopy performance and improve outcomes for patients. There has never been a greater need for innovation in the NHS and this research may be able to shine a light on the possible benefits this technology can provide.

“Our NAIAD study (National Study of Artificial Intelligence in Adenoma Detection for colonoscopy) is set to explore the use of AI in a ‘real world’ setting, and how it might influence endoscopists in their day-to-day practice.”

The study received set-up funding from NHS England, following a competition to identify and fast-track AI technology into clinical services. King’s College Hospital will lead the study, though eventually it will involve 20 NHS trusts across England.

Published last May, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s yearly action plan included a key theme of being digitally enabled to support high-quality care and using innovative digital tools.