Researchers claim they have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that can detect and identify different types of brain injuries.
The research team from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, have clinically validated and tested the AI on large sets of CT scans and found that it was successfully able to detect, segment, quantify and differentiate different types of brain lesions.
The results, published in the journal ‘The Lancet Digital Health’, could be useful in large-scale research studies, for developing more personalised treatments for head injuries and, with further validation, could be useful in certain clinical scenarios, such as those where radiological expertise is at a premium.
“CT is an incredibly important diagnostic tool, but it’s rarely used quantitatively,” said study co-senior author David Menon, Professor at Cambridge University in the UK.
“Often, much of the rich information available in a CT scan is missed, and as researchers, we know that the type, volume and location of a lesion on the brain are important to patient outcomes,” Menon added.
The researchers wanted to design and develop a tool that could automatically identify and quantify the different types of brain lesions so that we could use it in research and explore its possible use in a hospital setting.
The team developed a machine learning tool based on an artificial neural network. They trained the tool on more than 600 different CT scans, showing brain lesions of different sizes and types.
They then validated the tool on an existing large dataset of CT scans.
The AI was able to classify individual parts of each image and tell whether it was normal or not. This could be useful for future studies in how head injuries progress, since the AI may be more consistent than a human at detecting subtle changes over time.
“This tool will allow us to answer the research questions we couldn’t answer before. We want to use it on large datasets to understand how much imaging can tell us about the prognosis of patients,” said study researcher Virginia Newcombe.
While the researchers are currently planning to use the AI for research only, they say with proper validation, it could also be used in certain clinical scenarios, such as in resource-limited areas where there are few radiologists.
In addition, the researchers said that it could have potential use in emergency rooms, helping get patients home sooner. Of all the patients who have a head injury, only between 10 and 15 per cent have a lesion that can be seen on a CT scan.
The AI could help identify these patients who need further treatment, so those without a brain lesion can be sent home, although any clinical use of the tool would need to be thoroughly validated, the authors wrote.