Medtronic adds Nvidia's AI to colorectal polyp-spotting software

Medtronic’s GI Genius software has already upgraded the detection of precancerous tissues during colonoscopies by bringing artificial intelligence into the process. Now, that AI is getting an upgrade of its own.

Medtronic and Nvidia announced a partnership this week that will see them attempt to build out an entire ecosystem of AI tools for diagnosis and other healthcare uses. Their team-up will start with the integration of Nvidia’s Holoscan computing software platform and IGX hardware into the existing GI Genius module. The aim is to improve its ability to spot colorectal polyps and adenomas on the lining of the colon in real-time during a colonoscopy.

The first of these bulked-up GI Genius programs will begin shipping out “later this year,” according to a Tuesday release from Nvidia.

From there, Medtronic will invite software developers to build, train and validate new AI algorithms that could be used similarly to GI Genius—to offer doctors diagnostic support or an extra pair of eyes throughout a procedure.

Those developers will be able to take advantage of Nvidia’s AI software and hardware to construct their new digital tools. That work will take place within Cosmo Pharmaceuticals’ newly created Innovation Center; the Irish pharma is the original developer and manufacturer of GI Genius and has held a distribution partnership with Medtronic since 2019.

The resulting AI models will then be hosted on Medtronic's newly established platform: the GI Genius AI Access platform. This will serve as a marketplace for a variety of Medtronic-branded, AI-powered healthcare tools aimed specifically at improving endoscopic procedures “ranging from surgical navigation to robotic-assisted surgery,” as Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said during his keynote address at the company’s annual GTC conference on Tuesday.

“We intend to have the GI Genius module host an ecosystem of algorithms to help support physicians,” Giovanni Di Napoli, president of Medtronic’s GI business, said in Cosmo’s release about the collaboration. “By incorporating NVIDIA Holoscan and the IGX platform into GI Genius, we aspire to speed up the medical device development cycle and expand access to real-time AI in procedures.”

GI Genius’ claim to fame is that it became in 2021 the first FDA-cleared AI tool to help doctors detect lesions in the colon in real time during a colonoscopy. The plug-in tool is compatible with virtually every currently available, FDA-cleared endoscopy video system. Throughout a colonoscopy procedure, its machine learning AI automatically highlights areas of interest on the system’s video feed, giving doctors a chance to examine possible polyps before they escalate into colon cancer.

A study published last year found that the GI Genius software missed only about 15% of polyps during colonoscopies compared to the 32% average miss rate of manual examinations of the video feed.