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AI can detect COVID-19 in lung ultrasound images

Artificial intelligence can spot COVID-19 in lung ultrasound images, much like facial recognition software can spot a face in a crowd, new research shows.

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The findings bring healthcare professionals closer to being able to quickly diagnose patients with COVID-19 and other pulmonary diseases with algorithms that comb through ultrasound images.

“We developed this automated detection tool to help doctors in emergency settings with high caseloads of patients who need to be diagnosed quickly and accurately, such as in the earlier stages of the pandemic,” said senior author Muyinatu Bell of Johns Hopkins University.

The tool also holds potential for developing wearables that track such illnesses as congestive heart failure, which can lead to fluid overload in patients’ lungs, not unlike COVID-19, the authors claim.

Co-author Tiffany Fong said: “What we are doing here with AI tools is the next big frontier for point of care.

“An ideal use case would be wearable ultrasound patches that monitor fluid buildup and let patients know when they need a medication adjustment or when they need to see a doctor.”

The AI analyses ultrasound lung images to spot features known as B-lines, which appear as bright, vertical abnormalities and indicate inflammation in patients with pulmonary complications. It combines computer-generated images with real ultrasounds images of patients.

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Image credit | iStock

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