The emergence of artificial intelligence has been revolutionary for many different industries, but has recently had its largest effect in the medical field, particularly in orthopedics. A 2018 study has revealed the amount of orthopedic literature on machine learning, a type of AI.
“I think there has definitely been an increase in our understanding but also our attraction or fascination with how [artificial intelligence] may shift care in orthopedics going forward,” Atul F. Kamath, MD, director of the Hip Preservation Center, staff in the Orthopedic and Rheumatologic Institute and professor of orthopedic surgery at Cleveland Clinic, told Orthopedics Today. “I think qualitatively, whether you are a lay person or someone in the medical field, you know artificial intelligence is integrated into multiple facets of daily life with autonomous cars and Siri, but also has merged into the medical world with projects like IBM Watson and Google platforms.”
Joseph H. Schwab, MD, chief of spine surgery and associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, attributes the impact of AI on the medical field to an increase in larger data sets along with the convergence of cloud-based computing and GPUs with other areas of technology.
“Whereas before you might use linear regression, things have evolved into more people using machine learning algorithms and many of those machine learning algorithms evaluate the data even if it were non-linear,” Schwab said. “Linear regression, of course, the data is presumed to be linear, but in real life most data are not truly linear and so using algorithms that allow that flexibility can help with prediction models.”
Schwab says that the benefits of convolutional neural networks and deep learning have spurred more and more people to utilize AI to evaluate data. Christopher P. Ames of UCSF says that by using registry data, AI can be used in real-time decisions, a crucial step in ensuring a patient’s safety.
“Immediately at the point of care, we can give [patients] the risk-benefit profile that is accurate and has been validated, and we can adjust the surgical variables, as well as show patients in real-time the risk/outcome benefit of preoperative physical conditioning or smoking cessation” Ames told Orthopedics Today.
The use of AI in the medical world is improving both the way we understand how someone is hurt, as well as providing us more accurate ways to treat their injuries and return to their healthy, daily lives.