The AI Surgeon's Assistant: How Generative AI is Revolutionizing the Operating Room

Imagine stepping into a futuristic operating room where artificial intelligence (AI) works seamlessly alongside surgeons, optimizing every aspect of the surgical process, from preoperative planning to postoperative care. This is no longer a distant dream, but a rapidly approaching reality, as generative AI takes the surgical operating room space by storm.

In this article, we'll explore the medically relevant ways generative AI is set to revolutionize surgery and improve patient outcomes.

The Virtual Reality Surgeon:

Imagine a world where surgeons can practice complex procedures in a virtual environment, fine-tuning their skills without the risk of harming a patient. Generative AI is making this possible by creating ultra-realistic surgical simulations, offering an immersive training experience that leads to increased precision and reduced complications in the real world.

The AI Surgical Coach:

Generative AI can act as a real-time surgical coach, providing personalized feedback and guidance based on a surgeon's individual performance. By processing data from past surgeries, AI systems can identify patterns and offer actionable insights to help surgeons improve their technique and reduce the risk of complications.

The 3D-Printed Patient:

By analyzing medical images and crafting detailed 3D models of a patient's anatomy, generative AI enables surgeons to plan procedures with incredible accuracy. This personalized approach to surgical planning allows for a tailored experience that minimizes risk and enhances patient outcomes.

The Robotic Assistant:

Imagine a surgical assistant that never tires or makes mistakes. AI-powered surgical robots are already making this a reality, assisting surgeons with tasks such as suturing and tissue manipulation. By leveraging generative AI, these robots can become even more precise and efficient, ultimately leading to improved surgical outcomes.

The AI-Enhanced Hologram:

Generative AI can transform medical imaging data into interactive, holographic visualizations, providing surgeons with a comprehensive view of a patient's anatomy during surgery. This real-time, 3D perspective enables surgeons to navigate complex anatomical structures with greater ease and accuracy, resulting in more effective surgeries and reduced complications.

The Post-Op Rehab Guru:

Generative AI isn't just changing the way surgeries are performed; it's also revolutionizing postoperative care. By analyzing patient data, AI can develop personalized rehabilitation plans that optimize recovery time and minimize the risk of complications, ensuring patients get back on their feet as quickly and safely as possible.

The possibilities for generative AI in the operating room are endless, with the potential to transform every aspect of the surgical process. As AI technology continues to advance, we can look forward to a future where surgery is safer, more efficient, and delivers better outcomes for patients. So, as we welcome our AI-powered assistants into the operating room, the surgical landscape will never be the same again. Even though the age of generative AI has not yet met critical adoption, here are more than 55 medical device startups currently shaping the future of the operating room:

AI within Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

  1. Proprio: Developer of a surgical navigation and imaging platform designed to improve surgical accuracy, simplify surgical workflows, and improve patient outcomes. The company's system supplants surgical microscopes, navigation systems, loupes, and screens, enabling surgeons to get a greater insight and pinpoint accuracy and create a valuable repository of surgical information.
  2. Osso VR: Osso VR is a virtual reality surgical training platform that uses AI to analyze surgeons' performance and provide personalized feedback, enhancing their surgical skills.
  3. Mvisioner: Developer of surgical devices, anatomy devices, and medical educational devices. The company utilizes VR/AR, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies into its products and develops solutions connected to a cloud platform for data integration and further analysis, providing medical professionals with high performing medical devices.
  4. Pixee Medical: Developer of an AR-based implant positioning system designed to offer high-performance, computer-assisted surgical technology. The company's system uses advanced computer vision and artificial intelligence technologies to build a simple camera that is installed in a smartphone or smart glasses helping to locate objects in a 3D space with millimeter precision, enabling doctors to perform orthopedic surgery, while remaining affordable amid the challenging health system environment.
  5. Hyper Vision: Developer of augmented reality and operator of an innovative technology startup headquartered in Shenzhen, China. The company specializes in offering surgical equipment monitoring, transparent AR display systems, self-contained electronic devices and headset solutions and more, thereby incorporating augmented reality to perform more complex surgical procedures.

The 3D-Printed Patient:

  1. Carlsmed: Developer of a spinal implant device and medical system designed to improve outcomes and decrease the cost of healthcare for spine surgery. The company leverages machine learning technologies and prior outcomes data to personalize the treatment of complex adult spinal deformities, enabling the medical community to improve surgical treatment of patients with adult spinal malalignment.
  2. Rejoint: Developer of artificial Intelligence is driven by 3D-printed personalized knee replacements designed to offer disruptive solutions in the orthopedic medicine sector. The company's knee replacement procedure provides personalized knee replacement and surgery recovery follow-up through, the analysis of the patient's anatomy, the implant design, and surgery simulation based on a patient's anatomy data, enabling the clients to monitor the patient rehabilitation and continuous product improvement

AI Surgical Coach / Surgical Navigation / Improved Precision

  1. Illuminant: Developer of surgical navigation system designed to project x-rays directly on the patient's skin. The company's platform uses computer vision and low-cost hardware to display patient-specific anatomical structures from preoperative medical images, pre-operative annotations from planning, and real-time feedback, like needle depth and tool trajectory, as a surgeon operates, enabling surgeons to perform safer and more efficient surgeries by projecting visual guidance directly on the patient's skin.
  2. EchoScout: Manufacturer of medical equipment intended for AI-assisted surgical fracture reconstruction. The company's product does ultrasound-guided surgery with AI and X-ray-free image navigation in real-time, enabling doctors to increase the quality of care through image-guided surgery based on expert knowledge.
  3. NeuroNav: Developer of a tech-enabled product designed to reduce attention shift for neurosurgeons during intricate and high-risk procedures. The company's product will combine a wearable device with stereoscopic vision software to create accurate and uninterrupted navigation workflows for surgeons, enabling professionals to minimize procedural risk and the need for revision surgeries for thousands of patients annually worldwide.
  4. Activ Surgical: Operator of a digital surgery company intended to revolutionize surgical vision. The company's patent-protected surgical software platform is being designed to reduce unintended and preventable surgical errors by enhancing intraoperative decision-making via the aggregation of surgical data, enabling surgeons to access a future of augmented reality-based and artificial intelligence-driven surgery that is safe and smart.
  5. Jmees: Developer of a surgical support system designed to support surgeons and deliver safe and high-quality treatment to all people. The company's operation-assisted navigation system visualizes tacit knowledge in laparoscopic surgery using artificial intelligence(AI) and enables safer surgery by analyzing surgical images in real time, supporting the operator's cognitive ability, and enabling surgeons to ensure safe endoscopic surgery.
  6. Basecamp Vascular: Developer of a steerable mechatronic device intended to improve endovascular navigation. The company's device uses shape memory alloy actuators to create multi distal active parts to facilitate the navigation through vascular tortuosities, enabling practitioners to gain direct access to cerebral vessels during mechanical thrombectomy for stroke treatment.
  7. Bosscome: Developer and producer of surgical instruments, tools and high-end medical equipment for orthopedics, neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, and ENT. The company focuses on the field of intelligent surgery and its core product is the optical and magnetic integrated surgical navigation system (ZETNa).
  8. HRS Navigation: Developer of a surgical navigation system intended to offer an end to end solution for innovative image-guided surgeries. The company's technology is based on optical pattern recognition technology which uses a stereoscopic vision camera to detect and track specially-marked objects, enabling healthcare facilities to improve their surgical workflow.
  9. Duluth Medical Technologies: Developer of medical surgical applications designed to provide the physician with stability and guidance during the procedure. The company's applications offer clinical data exchange in terms of CT scans, MRI scans and arthroscopy, and arthroplasty videos, enabling surgeons to improve patient care and lower costs.
  10. Activ Surgical: This company is developing an AI-powered platform called ActivEdge, which aims to improve surgical outcomes by providing real-time, data-driven insights to surgeons during operations.
  11. Caresyntax: Caresyntax uses AI and machine learning to develop data-driven solutions for surgical workflow optimization, patient safety, and surgical education.
  12. Digital Surgery (acquired by Medtronic): Digital Surgery focuses on creating AI-driven software for surgical training, planning, and execution, helping to improve surgical outcomes and patient care.
  13. Integro Theranostics: Developer of wearable real-time image-guided goggles designed to detect the molecule and digitally elevate the standard of care. The company's goggles incorporate predictive analytics and artificial intelligence into the operating room to visualize novel fluorescence tumor-targeting agents during surgery for the complete removal of tumors, enabling surgeons to improve patient treatment and care.
  14. 7D Surgical: Developer of an image-guided surgery system designed to conduct radiation-free surgeries. The company's system leverages machine vision technology and has improved line of sight, precision, workflow, radiation exposure through complete sterile system control and improves conditions for surgeons, staff and patients, enabling the healthcare industry to undertake surgeries in a secure manner.

The Robotic Assistant:

  1. Intuitive Surgical: Known for their da Vinci surgical system, which is a robotic-assisted platform that utilizes AI to enhance surgical procedures.
  2. Medtronic: Collaborating with companies like NVIDIA to incorporate AI into their medical devices, such as the GI Genius intelligent endoscopy module.
  3. Johnson & Johnson: J&J's medical device subsidiary, Ethicon, has developed the Verb Surgical Platform, which combines robotics, advanced instrumentation, and data analytics.
  4. Stryker: Acquired Mako Surgical, a company specializing in robotic-arm assisted surgeries. Stryker's Mako System uses AI to improve joint replacement procedures.
  5. CMR Surgical: The company has developed the Versius surgical robotic system, which utilizes AI to enable minimal access surgeries with greater precision and control.
  6. Auris Health: The company's Monarch Platform is an AI-powered robotic bronchoscopy platform designed to enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis of lung cancer.
  7. Titan Medical: Developing the SPORT surgical system, a robotic platform that uses AI to facilitate single-port laparoscopic surgeries.
  8. Agilis Robotics: Developer of flexible surgical robots designed for supporting endoscopic surgery. The company's robots can be applied to different organs of the human body and can be used to assist surgeons in the examination or operation of the digestive tract system, lower abdomen, large bowel and bladder system, providing clinicians with enhanced robotic dexterity and precision while leveraging current clinical workflows.
  9. ForSight Robotics: Developer of a surgical robotic technology designed for ophthalmic surgery. The company's technology combines robotic microsurgical technology, visualization technologies, and cognitive computing methods in order to change ophthalmic surgical procedures, enabling surgeons to deliver high-precision and cost-effective vision-saving surgery.
  10. FUXI Robot: Developer and manufacturer of medical robots. The company focuses on the R&D of compliant control and safe interaction of puncture robots that are suitable for multi-mode operations, enabling users to ensure the continuous improvement of the intelligence level of the equipment.
  11. iSurgery: Developer of an AI medical device designed to estimate bone density. The company's device assists the osteoporosis screening rate by estimating bone density from chest X-rays from chest radiographs, enabling surgeons to improve treatment intervention rates.
  12. Great Robotics: Developer of surgical robots based on precise image navigation technology. The company develops a series of surgical robots in response to clinical needs and industry pain points, committing to increasing surgical efficiency and realizing faster recovery.
  13. Method AI: Developer of robotic surgery platform designed to enable improved outcomes for robotic surgical procedures. The company offers a technology platform to help medical professionals and surgeons deliver technology-enabled surgery and have an impact on the field of surgical oncology.
  14. Ruby Robotics: Developer of vertically integrated robotics and artificial intelligence intended to autonomously prepare the image and assess tissue during biopsy procedures.
  15. Caranx Medical: Developer of surgical robots for vascular and abdominal surgery which integrate augmented reality and artificial intelligence technologies based in Paris, France. The company offers intelligent, autonomous and compact robots which provide flexible access (non-rigid) in a compact device, thereby enhancing the surgeons' experience while improving patients' outcomes.
  16. Hcit. AI: Developer of surgical robots designed to assist in the operations of hospitals and clinics. The company's surgical robots can solve the problem of relying on manual experience in the clinical process through artificial intelligence technology and in-depth integration with the surgical scene, which improves the efficiency and reduce the risk of the operation.
  17. AiM Medical Robotics: Developer of a compatible surgical robot designed to improve outcomes for patients undergoing neurosurgery for functional brain disorders. The company's surgical robotic platform simultaneously combines surgical planning and procedure with MR functional robotics that provides precise trajectory guidance for neurosurgical procedures, enabling healthcare providers to improve patient outcomes.

Focuses on Minimally Invasive Surgeries:

  1. Sugray Medical: Developer of surgical devices used in minimally invasive surgery. The company's products, including minimally invasive surgical equipment and workflow software, are powered by artificial intelligence technology, enabling medical institutions to achieve better precision surgical practices.
  2. Ronovo Surgical: Developer of a soft tissue surgery robot platform designed to perform minimally invasive surgery. The company's platform leverages next-generation robotics and advanced digital solutions to address surgical specialties across the spectrum, optimizing patient outcome and health economics and disrupt surgical care in China, enabling medical industry users to improve surgery efficiency and precision.
  3. Vicarious Surgical: This company combines AI, robotics, and virtual reality to develop a surgical system designed to improve precision and efficiency in minimally invasive procedures.
  4. aiEndoscopic: Manufacturer of intelligent medical devices intended to be used for safer and easier tracheal intubations. The company's device combines visual access, precision, and experience in one single device to allow assistive or even autonomous endoscopy, enabling surgeons to perform intubation and other surgeries with ease and lower patient life risks.
  5. Kaliber AI: Developer of a surgical AI software designed to address surgical variability and fragmentation in healthcare. The company's software supports accurate, consistent, and efficient surgical performance, unifies and streamlines the surgical journey, and facilitates personalized, evidence-based care, enabling surgeons to continue the pursuit of minimally invasive surgery by minimizing cost and impacting lives.

Medical Equipment & Integrated Operating Room:

  1. AiSight: AiSight develops AI-powered predictive analytics tools for equipment maintenance in surgical settings, optimizing operating room efficiency and reducing equipment downtime.
  2. Cydar Medical: Developer of a cloud-based imaging overlay system designed to connect live images from the operating room. The company's system brings diagnostic scans, operative plans, and live imaging together in a unified 3D interface and provides real-time insights to users, enabling physicians to improve patient outcomes.
  3. True Digital Surgery: Developer of a digital surgery visualization device designed to enhance the surgical experience and advance patient results. The company's device offers integrated applications that combine robotics, precise visualization, integrated patient data, intraoperative connectivity, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and machine learning, enabling surgeons to get quality working depth and clarity which improves visualization for a range of surgical procedures.
  4. Horizon Surgical Systems: Operator of healthcare platform intended to provide revolutionize microsurgery system. The company offer microsurgery system by creating and integrating advancement in robotics, medical imaging and artificial intelligence, enabling surgeon to grow their performance in beyond current limitations.
  5. ION Medical Safety: Developer of a healthcare system designed to prevent medical errors and save lives. The company's system utilizes advanced surgical technologies and artificial intelligence, the blockchain, biometrics, IoMT, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, voice recognition, 3D printing and smart contracts to develop surgical best practices, enabling doctors to increase patient safety and deliver personalized patient-centered care.
  6. NZ Technologies: Operator technology innovation and electro-mechanical device production firm intended to focus on revolutionizing modern human-machine interfaces. The company specializes in the design and manufacture of advanced human-machine interface products with applications in minimally invasive surgeries, enabling surgeons to interact with operating room equipment and radiology imaging by utilizing unique and practical touchless interfaces.

Surgical Imaging / Screening:

  1. iSurgery: Developer of an AI medical device designed to estimate bone density. The company's device assists the osteoporosis screening rate by estimating bone density from chest X-rays from chest radiographs, enabling surgeons to improve treatment intervention rates.
  2. Aidence: Aidence uses AI-powered medical imaging analysis to detect and monitor lung cancer and other lung diseases, improving diagnostic accuracy and patient care.
  3. Wisdom Tech: Developer of technology of artificial intelligence medical software and equipment. The company is committed to developing advanced medical products such as artificial intelligence medical imaging software, tumor intelligent radiotherapy systems, and advanced radiotherapy equipment, enabling the medical industries to have advanced software and equipment for treatment.

Medical Training:

  1. Buzzark Simulations: Developer of medical training simulators designed to specialize in surgery training. The company's platform develops different kinds of virtual reality based simulators for nursing and other medical protocol based training simulators, also provides the users to practice the surgery for any number of times at various scenarios to train the hand and eye coordination of the user, enabling enterprise clients across industries to achieve brand differentiation, improve operational efficiency, enhance customer experience and realize business growth with its augmented and virtual reality development service.
  2. Dasu Sumulations: Developer of computational predictive modeling designed for improved patient outcomes and reduced costs. The company's technology platform performs advanced individualized computational predictive modeling powered by artificial intelligence and by utilizing proprietary algorithms, enabling medical professionals to perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedures with more informed decisions.

Pre / Post-Op Rehab:

  1. Kaliber AI: Developer of a surgical AI software designed to address surgical variability and fragmentation in healthcare. The company's software supports accurate, consistent, and efficient surgical performance, unifies and streamlines the surgical journey, and facilitates personalized, evidence-based care, enabling surgeons to continue the pursuit of minimally invasive surgery by minimizing cost and impacting lives.
  2. Touch Surgery: Touch Surgery is a mobile app that uses AI to simulate and plan surgical procedures, offering a comprehensive training platform for medical professionals.
  3. MedCloud Technologies: Provider of surgical technology designed to reduce the risk of spinal instrumentation surgery. The company's technology uses artificial intelligence to view the images of the anatomy of the patients which helps to reduce the risk of screw misplacement, enabling healthcare providers to improve the lives of the patients and cure them.

While the specific application of generative AI in these companies might not be explicit, they are certainly at the forefront of leveraging AI technology to revolutionize surgical practices and medical devices. As the field of AI continues to grow, we can expect more companies to explore the potential of generative AI in the surgical medical device space.
Article written by Emeka Alozie with support from ChatGPT
Artificial Intelligence Generative AI Medical Device Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality Data Monitoring and Equipment Medical Imaging Surgical Robotics