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Benefits of Implementing AI in Medical Imaging: Most Significant Use Cases

September 15, 2021

6 minutes read

The term medical imaging is widely used when we speak about digital help for creating and processing images of different parts of the human body for diagnostic and treatment. It includes different types of medical imaging like X-ray radiography,  Fluoroscopy, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Ultrasound (US), Computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, hybrid modalities. 

Medical imaging technology allows doctors to see the organs, bones, and tissues in a patient’s body. One of the biggest challenges in this field is the time-consuming analyzing, documenting, processing, and evaluating rapidly accumulated visual data from medical examinations and procedures. 

Artificial intelligence is capable of rapid scanning and analysis of gathered visual information. This can help reduce medical errors in different medical facilities. AI tools enable radiologists to inspect medical imaging results as just one source of data to make a complete picture of a patient’s health condition.

Let’s uncover more in detail the benefits of implementing AI in Medical Imaging and the most essential use cases where AI has a potential to revolutionize Medical Imaging.

The Problems With Data in Healthcare

The biggest issue with data in the healthcare field is that enormous amounts of unstructured visual information (CAT scans, X-rays, MRIs etc.) are being generated. Manual methods of analysis can not process such quantities of visual data. It is striking the capacities of competent medical workers and results in burnout of overworked radiologists. 

According to statistics, radiologists are now reading 12 MRI images per minute compared to 3 a decade ago. It means that more work must be done by quite the same number of radiologists, not to mention the CT and MRI utilization that has remarkably grown in recent years. As a result, overworked medical professionals can make mistakes more often. Not to forget that work of radiologists consists not only of image analysis, but the overloading with one task increasing, other duties become more difficult to find time for. For example, individual radiology reports or other tasks where medical experience and expert knowledge, based on research and informed by judgment, come into play to form a holistic diagnosis.

AI-based applications for medical imaging can help to uncover patterns and recognize structures based on autonomously extracted features. It brings new value to medical care on multiple levels, from intelligent image analysis for diagnosis, (for example, detection of malignant cancer structures in radiology) to content-based image retrieval.

AI-based models can change and improve every part of the medical imaging workflow. They are created not to replace a doctor’s role, but to enhance it through intelligent assistance, allowing healthcare professionals to focus on more complicated and value-adding tasks.

How Artificial Intelligence Will Change Medical Imaging

AI-based applications developed for medical imaging help to make alternative diagnoses or see anatomical structures much sharper and finer then doctors might have previously been able to. Such software does not sharpen images more quickly than previously, but it can better scalable development and allow greater transparency into model design and performance. 

If some important medical information has been missing or overlooked, it can result in the wrong diagnosis and harm the patient’s life. Medical imaging helps to detect illnesses at earlier stages improving not only a general level of medical help, but saving people’s lives as well. 

To significantly affect the efficiency of medical imaging, AI-based applications have to become a daily usage in each healthcare institution. There are some important aspects where AI can be helpful in revolutionizing medical imaging.

Supporting Physicians in the Diagnostics

Can AI-driven medical imaging applications once replace physicians in the diagnostics process? Sometimes you can find similar thoughts claiming that deep learning and other AI technologies are a big threat to radiologists. Reality shows us that it is just the opposite. The problems described above can in fact be solved more quickly and easily with digital help of new technologies, allowing radiologists to perform more expertise-based tasks like offering more personal medical care and paying more attention to each case. 

So, AI-based medical imaging applications can’t replace radiologists and diagnosticians now, they will stand up for them and help by processing medical visual information. ML-driven models can inspect and process large quantities of information, inspect details, analyze and send the results to doctors.

For instance, if physician has to make a diagnosis for somebody with chest pain, following information is essential: 

  • Cardiac exam (prior and actual, preferably with visual information).
  • CT scans.
  • Medication prescription history.
  • Other medical history information based on patient personal record.
  • Surgeries.
  • Laboratory results.

To inspect all this data manually, the doctor will need a lot of valuable time. AI-based software with access to an electronic health record (EHR) can gather the information and make suggestions about possible diagnosis within minutes. 

The relevant results will be sent to the doctor in detail and in an easily readable format. In some urgent cases it can even save patient’s lives. Otherwise, it can free up a doctor’s time for other cases, better the general level of medical help, and boost patient’s outcomes. 

More Precise Medicine

Several years ago it happened for the first time that a ML-based application successfully and precisely identified two different types of lung cancer. The diagnostics of cancer and staging cancers still remains a big problem to pathologists. Even very experienced doctors can sometimes make mistakes in the diagnosis or argue about details. 

In contrast to people, medical imaging software can easily avoid subjectivity, which is one of the biggest advantages. To make a decision more evidence-based, medical imaging apps can identify on pictures sufficiently more aspects and details than a human eye can observe. With the help of precise medical software, doctors can offer more targeted and personalized cures. Advantages of AI in medical imaging can significantly help researchers in discovering new ways of treating diseases as well.

Retrospective Screening 

Medical imaging can be a great help when it comes to retrospective screening. Previously programmed and trained algorithms effectively inspect and compare visual data containing all medical history imaging records. It helps to uncover medical conditions overlooked or not discovered previously.

For instance, a person suffers from symptoms that let a physician think about lung cancer. To make a holistic diagnosis a doctor needs a lot of medical history information about the general condition of a patient’s health, previous treatments, surgeries, labs and medications. Medical imaging applications can quickly and effectively help to analyze all data from medical history records and review all previous CT scans as well. It allows doctors to prove that a patient may or may not actually have lung cancer. Also genomic results show a patient’s genetic predisposition to developing certain types of cancer and different other health conditions.

Let us summarise the most significant benefits of using AI for medical imaging and make a list of some use cases. ML-based software can help:

  • To detect cardiovascular abnormalities.
  • To identify fractures and other musculoskeletal injuries.
  • To assist in the diagnostics of neurological illnesses.
  • To diagnose thoracic conditions.
  • To improve the efficiency of breast, colon or other cancer tests.

VITech develops AI-powered custom medical imaging apps for the precise analysis of medical images in different file formats. Our medical image analysis software can scan, compare and analyze medical images quickly while avoiding errors made by humans.

Contact our experts to learn more about how artificial intelligence and advanced technology may be used to enhance treatment outcomes and optimize care pathways.

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