A new AI tool developed by researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center can accurately measure plaque deposits in coronary arteries and predict a patient’s risk of suffering a heart attack within five years. The tool needs further validation before being deployed in clinics, but promises to automatically achieve in seconds what has previously taken trained experts up to 30 minutes to deliver.
A scan known as computed tomography angiography (CTA) is one of the best tools doctors currently have at their disposal to evaluate heart disease patients. CTA imaging of plaque deposits within coronary arteries has recently been found to be the best way to predict a patient’s likelihood of heart attack in the near future.
« Coronary plaque is often not measured because there is not a fully automated way to do it, » said senior author of the new study, Damini Dey, from the Biomedical Imaging Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai. « When it is measured, it takes an expert at least 25 to 30 minutes, but now we can use this program to quantify plaque from CTA images in five to six seconds. »
To create the tool the researchers first trained an algorithm to recognize plaque deposits using a dataset of CTA images from 921 patients. The tool was then validated on a test set of images from several hundred patients, delivering results in close to complete agreement with human expert readers.