Dr. Tamir Wolf is a doctor by trade. Therefore, when he saw how two different surgeons treated two people close to him in completely different ways, with completely different results, he realized that something was wrong with the system. That's when he also came up with the idea, which he hopes will help all surgeons give their patients the best care with the best outcomes.
"Computer vision and surgery are very similar"
“I diagnosed my wife and my former boss with appendicitis within a few months. I took them to different hospitals 10 kilometres apart, and the approach to treatment was very different. This led to some complications and some near-death situations for my boss. On the other hand, my wife and I left the hospital within 12 hours from the moment we set foot in the intensive care unit," said Wolf in a conversation with Geektime.
He told us that when he was studying medicine and later worked as a doctor, he never thought that there would be such differences in treatments during surgery. "Being on the other side [not the doctor but the patients/ patient relatives] was an experience that made me realize that this is something I cannot live with, and I decided to change the status quo.” And so, to make the changes he wished to see, he founded Theator, in 2019.
Theator’s system stores video information from surgeries – information that exists today anyway from the most complex surgeries – and uses computer vision capabilities to identify the surgeries that were performed best, and also those that had mistakes. In addition, the company's technology enables the connection between the clinical information received from the hospital regarding the result of the surgery and the procedures performed during it. In this way, surgeons can select the criteria that interest them in the surgeries – for example "pancreas", and "complications" – and the system will show the surgeon only the relevant video clips out of the many videos of surgeries that are stored in the system.
Theator’s development automatically identifies and catalogues critical moments from hundreds of operations, such as critical steps performed by surgeons and events such as patient bleeding. Turning the analysis into a controlled and cataloged process using computer vision allowed Theator to create flowcharts. This way you can understand various events that happened in the operating room and turn them into insights for the surgeons.
"Computer vision and surgery are very similar because both are about pattern recognition," Wolf told us. He explained that despite all the progress humanity has made – as far as surgeons are concerned– the way they work has been the same way for hundreds of years and they usually have limited knowledge. Why? Because any knowledge they have under their belt comes from lived experiences as surgeons in the hospitals they practice at. Theator's system, on the other hand, makes knowledge available to them, including rare cases and surgeries.
When do you think we will reach the watershed moment– when systems like Theator's outsmart the experts?
"I don't believe that artificial intelligence in our field will overtake surgeons. But similar to what we have seen in radiology (such as through Israel’s Aidoc), I believe that a decision-making support system like our 'surgical intelligence' will allow surgeons to operate in a better way than ever before and will provide safer and higher quality treatment."
Expanding the recruitment round from 2021
At the end of last week, the Israeli startup reported raising $24 million, as an extension to the Series A funding round it completed last year (for $15.5 million). The expansion of the round was led by the largest investor in the Israeli ecosystem - Insight Partners– with participation from Lamberg Capital, Mayo Clinic, the NFX Fund of Gigi Levy-Weiss, StageOne and iAngels. iCON and TripActions CEO Ariel Cohen also participated in the round.