AI and heart health: Machines do a better job of reading ultrasound than sonographers, study finds

Artificial intelligence (AI) could potentially do a better job of screening heart health than trained sonographers. That’s the conclusion of a study by the Smidt Heart Institute and the Division of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, California.

In the study, published in the journal Nature, a total of 3,495 cardiac echocardiograms (ultrasounds) were evaluated.

About half of the scans were evaluated by AI; the other half was evaluated by 25 cardiac sonographers with an average of 14 years of experience.

The scans and assessments were then sent to 10 cardiologists for review.

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For scans assessed by AI, cardiologists found fewer discrepancies, the results showed.

“Cardiologists weren’t able to distinguish between the AI ​​preliminary assessments and the sonographers, and in fact, the AI ​​assessments required fewer corrections,” cardiologist David Ouyang, principal investigator of the clinical trial and lead author of the study at Cedars Sinai. Digital in an email.

A new study from Cedars-Sinai suggests that AI could potentially do a better job of screening heart health than trained sonographers.

A new study from Cedars-Sinai suggests that AI could potentially do a better job of screening heart health than trained sonographers. (Stock)

“It showed that the AI ​​was both faster and more accurate than the sonographers in assess heart function,” he added.

For scans assessed by the AI ​​and then a cardiologist, there was only a “substantial change in diagnosis” for 16.8% of the images.

Among the scans assessed by sonographers, the change in diagnosis was 27.2%.

The team was “pleasantly surprised”

Dr Ouyang said the team did not expect AI to perform better than trained sonographers.

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“This trial was designed as a non-inferiority trial, and we initially only hoped to show that AI and sonographers were equivalent, but we were pleasantly surprised to show that AI was superior,” he said. he declares.

“In a way, this AI passed the ‘Turing test’ for playing echocardiogram videos.”

(A Turing test is a way to assess whether a computer can respond intelligently enough to be indistinguishable from human responses.)

Many variables involved in reading echocardiograms

Dr. Neerav G. Sheth, interventional cardiologist at Cardiology Consultants of Philadelphia in Paolio, Pennsylvaniadid not participate in the study but offered its analysis of the results.

There are many variables that go into reading echocardiograms for the heart, he said.

“We believe that more prospective randomized trials are needed, but this study shows that AI of this nature is ready for prime time and its deployment in the clinical workflow,” said a cardiologist. (Stock)

“These include sonographer experience, study quality, machine quality and others,” he told Fox News Digital.

“In terms of baseline information and standardized assessments, I think AI could potentially outperform sonographers,” he continued.

“AI requires oversight, especially if there aren’t a lot of ‘normal’ datasets being analyzed by the algorithm.”

“That said,” he added, “as with sonographers, AI requires oversight — especially if there aren’t many ‘normal’ datasets being analyzed by the algorithm.”

“Be careful” and “ask questions”

As the role of AI in health care is still quite new and evolving, Dr. Ouyang stressed the need to be careful about its implementation in patient care.

“This is one of the few prospective trials of AI in healthcare, and most of them are unblinded or randomized,” he said.

“Be careful about which AI tools to use and ask about the number of examples the AI ​​was trained on and proof of performance.”

“Nothing will replace the doctor-patient relationship.”

Once validated, Dr. Ouyang said he believes AI systems can greatly streamline and improve patient care.

The researchers plan to implement the AI ​​scan tool in other hospitals - and said they will continue to monitor its accuracy.

The researchers plan to implement the AI ​​scan tool in other hospitals – and said they will continue to monitor its accuracy. (Stock)

“We believe that more prospective randomized trials are needed, but this study shows that AI of this nature is ready for prime time and its deployment in the clinical workflow,” he added.

Limitations exist and further research is needed

The study authors noted several limitations of the research.

Perhaps the biggest limitation is that this was a “single center study”, meaning it was done on a small scale in one location.

“AI can improve patient care but should not replace human oversight.”

In addition, study demographics were limited.

“Having a small normal data set and a homogeneous population reduces the ability of AI to generalize to all people,” Dr. Sheth said.

“Nothing will replace the doctor-patient relationship – but when used correctly, AI can definitely improve it,” said a cardiologist. (Cyberguy.com)

To bolster these findings, the researchers plan to implement the AI ​​scan tool in other hospitals and will continue to monitor its accuracy.

AI ‘would help improve, not replace, clinical practice’

Overall, both doctors agree that while AI can improve patient careit should not replace human supervision.

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“We really need clinicians to still be in charge – cardiologists still need to review and confirm results, even though AI can do it faster and get more accurate measurements than sonographers,” Dr Ouyang said.

For his part, Dr. Sheth said he believes AI will be critical to sustaining clinical practice as patient needs become more complex.

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“As new drugs, technologies and treatment options emerge, appropriate use of AI would help augment, not replace, clinical practice to improve outcomes for our patients,” he said.

Dr Sheth added: “Nothing will replace the doctor-patient relationship, but when used correctly, AI can certainly enhance it.”

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