Tendon injuries? Artificial intelligence comes to the rescue
Smarter Diagnostics, a startup from the ICM University of Warsaw, has developed an effective tool for analyzing magnetic resonance images of the lower limb. Their solution SmarterAchillesMRI uses artificial intelligence to dramatically speed up the diagnosis of Achilles tendon and provide injury prevention. The potential of Smarter Diagnostics has been recognized by Aligo VC and Sunfish Partners, which invested PLN 2.2 million.
Smarter Diagnostics comes out of Warsaw University. Its founders are Bartosz Borucki and Dr. Norbert Kapinski. The new diagnostic method developed by them is particularly useful in the world of sports. Effective injury prevention can be crucial to the continuity of training. SmarterAchillesMRI is a baseline software that analyzes images created during a shin area MRI scan. Orthopedic and sports medicine facilities can use it to make more effective diagnostics and prevent injuries. Or, if already happened, analyze them more accurately and select appropriate treatment methods.
Sports is health, right? Yes, but…
Ruptures of the Achilles tendon are very often associated with sports. Their risk increases when there are factors such as overload problems (e.g., resulting from incorrect training) or metabolic problems (e.g., resulting from chronic diseases or improper diet). Diagnoses of Achilles tendon injuries are usually based on visible symptoms and clinical examination. For early detection and selection of effective therapy, radiological evaluation is crucial. This is extremely important for athletes (amateur and professional) who want to avoid injury or resume injury-interrupted training as soon as possible.
Injuries to the Achilles tendon are a common affliction among runners, but they also frequently affect athletes who participate in football, basketball, volleyball, tennis or the recently popular triathlon. It also affects the general sports population over 40 – says Beata Ciszkowska-Lyson, MD, PhD, a physician-radiologist at MIRAI Clinic and medical consultant at Smarter Diagnostics. – This type of injury is led by processes that weaken tissue strength – degenerative changes – which can be detected at an early stage, even in asymptomatic people, thanks to MR imaging. Damage detected early can be reversed with exercise, lifestyle or dietary changes, and treatment of the underlying problem.
Sprint for a diagnosis
SmarterAchillesMRI system analyzes magnetic resonance images of the Achilles tendon from a quick (15 min) and inexpensive MRI examination. It allows numerical evaluation of changes in the tendon and surrounding tissues, which represent, among other things, susceptibility to injury. It also compares them over time.
Fast and efficient Achilles tendon diagnostics, supported by automation, is the key to effective therapy, but also prevention – says Bartosz Borucki, CEO of Smarter Diagnostics. – It turns out that when we involve artificial intelligence in the tedious process of analyzing MRI images, we are able to speed it up, reduce errors and make the results comparable.
Getting to the next level
The method developed by Smarter Diagnostics has already been used in a series of pilot studies – among others, conducted at Gamma Medical Center. Also, the team is successfully monitoring athletes in the exercise influence validation project performed by the Institute of Sports in Warsaw.
The market lacks screening tests of, for example, the Achilles tendon, which are fast, easily accessible, inexpensive and do not require a specialist for interpretation, while being effective – comments Dr. Pawel Adamczyk of CM Gamma – Automated evaluation of fast MRI scan is just such a solution.
Now, it is time to build on these early wins and grow out the commercial solution. Smarter Diagnostics managed to raise funds from Aligo VC and Sunfish Partners. Their investment will enable the startup to confirm the clinical effectiveness of their method, follow on with regulatory clearance, and start the diagnostic offer directed at both healthcare customers (e.g. imaging centers, teleradiology) and active individuals.
A significant reduction of tendon-related injuries is the ultimate goal, not only for athletes, but also for the healthcare system costs.
Smarter Diagnostics has the potential to significantly reduce one of athletes’ most significant weak spots, literally their Achilles’ heel. The team already had the drive and domain knowledge, now the funding will enable them to fully execute their vision. – said Dr. Marcus Erken, Founding Partner of Sunfish Partners.
Smarter Diagnostics / ICM