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AI Imaging Is Set To Evolve Ultrasound (Again)

Ultrasound technology is already benefiting from a decade of advancement in artificial intelligence (AI). Not only has AI helped improve ultrasound clarity; it’s also been instrumental in improving diagnostic speed and accuracy. Now, as AI evolves even further, there’s hope it will set new precedents for ultrasound technology innovation.

FDA-approved new technologies

We’re currently living through an AI boom largely fueled by deep learning advancements. Large pool neural networks have allowed engineers to program AI models against a host of different tasks — everything from generating text and images to sequencing genomic markers or reading an ultrasound scan. Why is that so exciting?

In early 2023, the FDA quietly approved two AI-powered ultrasound technologies: adjunctive AI and multimodal AI.

  • Adjunctive AI relies on a scoring system to provide real-time assessment of the quality of cardiac ultrasound images. It’s a technology designed to generate colors and numerical scoring that make it easier for clinicians to view and understand cardiac images — and potentially other types of scans in the future.
  • Multimodal AI uses digital mammography and automated 3D breast ultrasound to deliver more accurate detection of breast cancer in women with denser breast tissue. There’s a belief that multimodal AI will also be suitable for detecting cancers in other dense-tissue areas of the body.

These AI-backed imaging assistants join anomaly-detecting AI programs as leading-edge solutions in the fight to make ultrasound imaging clearer, more accurate, and more detailed at the point of diagnosis.

The next generation of ultrasound

FDA approval of AI-powered ultrasound technology signals the start of a new era of innovation in the world of medical imaging, and major players are already taking note. GE Healthcare recently acquired Caption Health, an AI ultrasound company targeting early disease detection. This acquisition was followed by a statement from GE HealthCare Ultrasound President and CEO Roland Rott, who stated that “guiding ultrasound users during examinations with the help of AI is of growing importance, especially as we reach a broader set of healthcare professionals.”

The message is clear: AI is paving the way toward better ultrasound accessibility and likely, high-caliber medical imaging. AI can assist clinicians during both the imaging and post-imaging process as they seek to evaluate ultrasound scans. This twofold high-tech support is expediting speed to care and enhancing the quality of evidence-based care.

As the FDA continues to greenlight AI solutions, both legacy manufacturers and innovative startups will push to enable it at the point of care. As a result, we’re likely to see even greater adoption of AI at the heart of ultrasound administration.

A cornerstone of frontline healthcare

AI goes hand-in-hand with another up-and-coming ultrasound innovation — point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS). PoCUS devices are designed to be extremely easy to use and broadly applicable, which means they aren’t necessarily supported by the same technologies as a complete ultrasound unit. AI pares down the demands of PoCUS, allowing producers to focus on scan quality and form factor while AI handles the heavy lifting of image processing.

AI can improve the accuracy and speed of diagnoses by identifying anomalies that may be difficult for humans to discern. At the point of care, this means less time spent analyzing scans and more time spent on patient interaction, leading to better outcomes and an improved experience, no matter the setting. It can also reduce the chances of overlooking critical clues that may inform diagnosis or treatment.

From the bedside to the field, PoCUS continues to emerge as essential tech. Likewise, AI will continue to be essential in supporting it. Together, they enable a new level of speed and decisiveness, which is increasingly instrumental in diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring.

AI is paving a path forward for ultrasound

From image detection and auto-adjustment to new technological developments, AI is shaping an impressive future for ultrasound tech. Innovations are set to introduce powerful capabilities and make diagnostic imaging even more valuable to patient care.

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April 3, 2023 Uncategorized