Deep learning shows promise for cutting overutilization of lumbar imaging, surgery

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Researchers in Germany have piloted the use of AI to distinguish patients likely to benefit by surgery for low-back pain from those who should do better skipping the OR in favor of conservative therapies.If the team’s approach proves out in larger studies, this ability alone might justify the technology’s adoption. That’s because lumbar imaging and interventions are often named among healthcare’s iffiest expenses due to the hit-or-miss predictability of the outcomes.

However, there’s more. The researchers believe their approach is translatable to avenues of medicine beyond orthopedic spine care.

Lead author of the study is André Wirries, MD, of the Hessing Foundation in Augsburg. Senior author is Samir Jabari of Erlangen University Hospital in Erlangen. European Spine Journal published the work Oct. 13.

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