DR. Bhavya Akhauri. (Mercy photo)

An eastern Iowa hospital boasts it’s the only facility in the state to start using a new technology to screen for polyps during colonoscopies.

It’s called the GI Genius and it uses artificial intelligence to highlight suspicious polyps with a visual marker in real time. Dr. Bhavya Akhauri, at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, says using the device is like having a second set of very sharp eyes.

“It’s a little box which looks like a DVD player and sits on top of our endoscopy processor,” Akhauri says. “It has a software that has millions of images of various kinds of polyps saved on it, and it actively flags the polyps with these green squares.”

Akhauri, medical director of the Mercy Gastroenterology Clinic, says studies are finding that an A-I-assisted colonoscopy can increase polyp detection rates. “Our polyp detection rate is really high,” Akhauri says, “so we just got the technology, so we’ll be comparing and seeing six to 12 months down the line just to see what difference it made to our unit, but it’s supposed to help find more polyps, that’s the rationale behind getting it.”

So at what age should you start getting a colonoscopy? “The consensus for all the GI societies, it’s 45 years. It used to be 50 but that also got changed,” Akhauri says. “We’re finding more and more cancers in younger populations, so currently, it’s at 45 and that’s what I recommend.”

A colonoscopy is considered the best way to detect polyps which could eventually lead to colorectal cancer, the third-most common form of cancer in the U.S., with almost 150,000 new cases every year.

Radio Iowa