Friday, June 18

London’s Royal Free Hospital to use AI keyhole procedure for heart attack patients

Heart attack patients at the Royal Free Hospital in London are to benefit from a new artificial intelligence (AI) backed keyhole procedure.

Abbott Ultreon 1.0 software merges optical coherence tomography (OCT), an imaging tool that provides cardiologists a view inside an artery or blood vessel, with AI technology for enhanced visualisation.

This combined technology can detect the severity of calcium-based blockages and measure vessel diameter to improve the precision of surgeon’s decision-making during coronary stenting procedures.


Coronary stenting procedures are used to treat patients with coronary artery disease. Through this new technology, cardiologists will have a more precise and measurable way of supporting patients undergoing coronary stent procedures.

The OCT technology, created by global healthcare company Abbott, uses near-infrared light to provide high-definition, precise imaging from within a blood vessel.

OCT imaging also helps improve physicians’ assessment of blockages in those vessels and optimise decisions related to stent selection, placement and deployment. The merging of AI with this technology aims to enhance accuracy and provides a tool to guide the cardiologist through the procedure. 

A further 20 centres across the UK will receive this AI software upgrade over the next few weeks.


The EU has approved an AI technology that can identify people at risk of a fatal heart attack, years before it strikes. The CE marked tool uses AI and deep-learning technology to produce a fat attenuation index score (FAI-Score), which accurately measures inflammation of blood vessels in and around the heart.


Dr Sundeep Kalra, consultant interventional cardiologist at the Royal Free London NHS FT, said: “As with other hospitals up and down the country the Royal Free London’s capacity has been stretched throughout both waves of COVID-19. Indeed, we were one of the worst affected trusts in the country, with cardiology facing a particularly heavy burden. In spite of this we’ve not only been able to dig deep and continue our elective percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) programme in a COVID-safe pathway, but have also continued to innovate during this time of clinical pressure. 

“As well as developing two state of the art catheterisation lab installations, we’re also very pleased to now be able to introduce the new Ultreon 1.0 software to pre-existing hardware in both labs. We are one of the highest volume OCT centres and look forward to leading on the use of Ultreon for AI guided PCI. Going forward this will enable more cardiologists, thanks to the enhanced visualisation and guidance, to carry out a procedure which until now has been limited to a few specialists.”

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