Milwaukee-based medical tech startup VasosGnosis Inc. is developing surgical planning and diagnostic software that can be thought of as the Google Maps of vascular surgery.
Using the startup’s software, doctors can rely on artificial intelligence-powered algorithms to help detect, diagnose and select treatment options for patients suffering from cerebrovascular diseases.
VasoGnosis is first applying its software to the process of treating brain aneurysms, a condition that can quickly become life-threatening, requiring immediate medical attention if they begin to leak or rupture. More than 152 million people worldwide suffer from brain aneurysms, and they cause nearly 500,000 deaths annually, according to Brain Aneurysm Foundation research.
Although endovascular surgery has been used to treat brain aneurysms for more than a decade, aneurysm detection and the surgical procedure can be inefficient, said Ali Bakhshinejad, VasoGnosis president and chief executive officer.
As a post-doctoral research scientist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Bakhshinejad observed several endovascular surgeries for brain aneurysms. After having conversations with radiologists and surgeons, Bakhshinejad realized the potential of applying AI as a predictive surgical tool. Without AI, diagnosis and selection of surgical devices is a manual and subjective process based on a surgeon or radiologist’s experience. Not only is the process time-consuming, but one out of four surgeries results in an unsuccessful outcome, which can lead to more than $65,000 in additional charge for the patient less than a year after their first operation, according to VasoGnosis.
The U.S. Drug and Food Administration has cleared more than 30 medical implant devices to treat brain aneurysms. Surgeons can often identify the right kind of device for a patient, but selecting the right size based on a patient’s anatomy can be challenging, Bakhshinejad said.[caption id="attachment_508716" align="alignnone" width="1280"] A 3D rendering of brain vessels calculated and rendered by VasoGnosis’ VG Recon in under four minutes.[/caption]
Some surgeons may try up to four different implants before finding the correct fit for the patient. It is also possible a surgeon selects the wrong device, which can lead to health complications or another surgery down the road.
“These are highly skilled surgeons that are performing this operation, and yet there’s a lot of guess work in the process,” Bakhshinejad said. “There is no way for the surgeon to know which device is going to fit before going to the operation room. That’s why you see a lot of complication in this process.”
VasosGnosis’ artificial intelligence algorithms are trained to find the aneurysm, conduct 3D measurements, and compare with previous scans. The startup’s detection engine can perform a risk assessment based on a patient’s health profile and the location of the aneurysm in the brain. A process that previously took between one hour and four days can be completed in a matter of five minutes.
Using VasoGnosis’ surgical planning software, a surgeon can simulate different surgical options and compare the outcomes before operating on a patient. Rather than basing surgical options on the limited available devices at a hospital, the software provides options with all FDA-approved surgical devices in mind.
VasoGnosis now has agreements in place for validation and a pilot program with UMass Memorial Health Care in Massachusetts as well as with the Medical College of Wisconsin. The startup was also recently selected for Nvidia’s inception program, which is an accelerator for promising deep learning startups.
VasoGnosis is raising a pre-seed round and has raised nearly $68,000 towards a valuation of $4 million. The company also recently applied for a federal Small Business Technology Transfer grant in collaboration with MCW for the development and validation of its software.
VasoGnosis Inc. Milwaukee Innovation: Diagnostic and surgical planning software Founder: Ali Bakhshinejad Founded: 2019 vasognosis.com