Medtech company develops AI to help treat atrial fibrillation

A French medtech company has developed AI software to help cardiologists treat atrial fibrillation (AF) and cardiac surgeons perform heart surgery.

Volta Medical has spent the past five years developing AI software to help cardiologists treat atrial fibrillation with the result being AIFib. The software is designed to guide doctors through the complex medical procedure intended to treat atrial fibrillation, from the detection of electrical foci, which trigger atrial fibrillation, to the surgery itself.

The software is based on 10 years of research and has been developed by co-founders, Dr Julien Seitz, Dr Clément Bars and Dr Jérôme Kalifa, alongside a team of engineers led by Théophile Mohr Durdez, who developed the software and runs the company.

The three co-founders commented on the company’s software, saying: “Traditional software is not powerful enough to analyse data with that level of complexity. Our technology draws on a type of artificial intelligence designed to understand such complexity in a way that outperforms the human brain’s capacity. This software was first ‘educated,’ much like a student, from an extremely large database and subsequently improved by gaining experience, much like a surgeon. The medical innovation of AIFib facilitates the procedure as well as the surgeon’s effectiveness to treat atrial fibrillation. This technology will make it possible to treat the most complex and severely affected patients in all equipped medical institution, which up until now could only be done in a limited number of expert centres.”

The software has shown to be promising and results of a test performed by 28 expert cardiologists against AIFib were presented at the 2018 Heart Rhythm Society Conference in May this year. The tests consisted of analysing intracardiac electrical signals during the surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation. The performance of AIFib surpassed those recorded by a panel of 28 cardiologists and the company is working on a study to confirm the software’s performance.

To identify the root cause of fibrillation, cardiologists have to manipulate probes inside the heart in order to identify the electrical signals and detect them visually. Volta Medical’s approach is to automate this technique to make it accessible to a large number of surgeons.

“Through our daily practice of cardiac electrophysiology, which is a very complex discipline, we realised that there is a strong global demand for a simplified, automated medical procedure to treat atrial fibrillation. Over the past five years, after multiple attempts and failures, we have finally managed to effectively model and automate this complex procedure within an artificial intelligence software. AIFib aims to effectively and easily detect the electrical foci causing fibrillation, which are very difficult to identify by the human eye. The paradox is that our extremely complex software is very user friendly in the end. This is, in fact, one of our objectives: to simplify what is complex,” the co-founders added.

Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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