Artificial intelligence is better than humans at evaluating ultrasound scans of the heart

According to one of the authors of the study, cardiologist David Ouyang from Los Angeles, the results of the successful survey showed where artificial intelligence can be very well used in the future. The so-called echocardiography (ECHO) is used to examine the functions of the heart and the parameters of individual heart compartments. Patients are examined by sonography specialists, who usually evaluate the image before sending it to the cardiologist.

The new study, published in the journal Nature, pitted these specialists against artificial intelligence to see who provided the most accurate initial estimate. Both groups measured the so-called LVEF, or left ventricular (heart) ejection fraction. It is a test that measures the heart’s ability to pump blood. It is used to determine if patients have had a heart attack or even if they can undergo surgery to place a defibrillator.

About 3,500 ultrasound scans of the heart were used for the study, which were randomly divided between human experts and artificial intelligence. Their results were then evaluated by cardiologists who did not know which came from the humans and which from the other group.

At the same time, cardiologists made substantial changes in more than 27 percent of assessments performed by humans and in nearly 17 percent of assessments performed by artificial intelligence, the study found. “Artificial intelligence was faster, more accurate, and cardiologists didn’t know it,” said David Ouyang. He added that there is a shortage of sonography experts in the United States and around the world, and using artificial intelligence would save them valuable time.

The artificial intelligence model was trained on almost 145,000 echocardiograms and uses so-called deep learning (Deep Learning), a discipline that falls under the category of machine learning, to process large amounts of data.

The researchers are now applying to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval to use the method. They hope this will happen soon in the European Union and everywhere in the world, added the cardiologist from Los Angeles. French cardiologist Florian Zores praised the study, but according to him, in France artificial intelligence would not find much use in this case, because the initial ultrasound examination of the heart is already performed directly by cardiologists here.

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