Tech Transfer eNews Blog

UCLA startup develops AI-based tool that could reduce unnecessary spine surgeries


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 8th, 2020

A startup from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) is developing an AI-based tool that analyzes spine images to inform patients whether or not they need surgery.

Based on research conducted by UCLA neurosurgeon Dr. Luke Macyszyn, the startup Theseus AI aims to address the costly medical problem of unnecessary spine surgeries. Studies show that between 20 and 40 percent of spine surgeries fail to relieve pain, and there are more than 250,000 performed each year.

“This is somewhat personal for me in that my own father had spine surgery twice,” says Sam Elhag, CEO of Theseus AI. “To this date, it’s uncertain as to whether or not it all made sense.”

Elhag launched Theseus to make the interpretation of spine MRIs less subjective. Using an algorithm developed by Dr. Macyszyn, the startup provides objective measurements of spinal stenosis, or the narrowing of space within the spine, by analyzing MRI images. Theseus also compares those measurements to patients of the same gender, age and height to get a more precise and sophisticated diagnosis beyond the current, generalized labels of mild, moderate or severe.

“If you give the same physician the same MRI on different days, they may give you a different diagnosis,” says Elhag. “We need to improve that by giving those folks more objective data.”

Theseus has developed the first version of its product and filed for initial patent applications, and it is currently seeking FDA approval.

Source: MedCity News

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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