AI Takes the Lead in Diagnosing Heart Function


Abhinav Raj

Abhinav Raj, Writer


For the first time, artificial intelligence (AI) outperformed sonographers in the examination and diagnosis of cardiac function when performing echocardiogram assessments.

The healthcare industry is rapidly embracing the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) as a valuable asset in the delivery of healthcare. With each passing day, AI is demonstrating its ability to revolutionize the way we approach medical diagnosis and treatment.

In a recent investigation led by cardiologists at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, artificial intelligence surpassed the performance of human sonographers in examining cardiac functions in echocardiography assessments. 

Investigators at the Smidt Heart Institute and the Division of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine at the nonprofit hospital designed and conducted a blinded and randomized clinical trial wherein they pitted AI against human sonographers to assess left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) of patients (a measure of the volume of blood the heart pumps out with each contraction), which is a significant indicator of heart function and health. 

The investigators randomly assigned patients to either the AI or the sonographer group without knowing which group each patient belonged to. Following the test, cardiologists were asked to determine whether the preliminary assessment was performed by a human sonographer or an AI. 

To say the results were astonishing would be an understatement. According to the findings, cardiologists were in greater agreement with the assessments made by the AI system. They were only required to make corrections to 16.8% of the data analyzed by AI, compared to up to 27.2% of assessments made by human sonographers.

According to David Ouyang, MD, the principal investigator of the clinical trial and senior author of the study, “The results have immediate implications for patients undergoing cardiac function imaging as well as broader implications for the field of cardiac imaging.”

“This trial offers rigorous evidence that utilizing AI in this novel way can improve the quality and effectiveness of echocardiogram imaging for many patients.”

The findings of the study, entitled ‘Blinded, randomized trial of sonographer versus AI cardiac function assessment’ have been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Nature. 

The world of healthcare is embracing AI at an unprecedented pace. Will AI transform how our healthcare is delivered—for good? 

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