Artificial intelligence brain scan trial will help clinicians diagnose dementia in a day
"If we intervene early, the treatments can kick in early and slow down the progression of the disease and at the same time avoid more damage. And it’s likely that symptoms occur much later in life or may never occur." Professor Zoe Kourtzi of Cambridge University and a fellow of The Alan Turing Institute
Addenbrooke’s Hospital and memory clinics around the country are to take part in a trial testing the identification of dementia with a single brain scan.
Currently it takes several scans before clinicians can diagnose the condition.
The researchers involved say earlier diagnoses resulting from their artificial intelligence (AI) system, which may also be able to predict whether the condition will remain stable for many years, slowly deteriorate or need immediate treatment, could greatly improve patient outcomes.
Professor Zoe Kourtzi of Cambridge University and a fellow of The Alan Turing Institute (the national centre for AI and data science), said:
“If we intervene early, the treatments can kick in early and slow down the progression of the disease and at the same time avoid more damage. And it’s likely that symptoms occur much later in life or may never occur.”
Prof Kourtzi’s system compares brain scans of those worried they might have dementia with those of thousands of dementia patients and their relevant medical records.
The algorithm can identify patterns in the scans even expert neurologists cannot see and match them to patient outcomes in its database.
In pre-clinical tests, it has been able to diagnose dementia years before symptoms develop – even when there are no obvious signs of damage on the brain scan.
The trial, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and other memory clinics around the country, will test whether it works in a clinical setting, alongside conventional ways of diagnosing dementia.
About 500 patients are expected to participate in the first year. Their results will go to their doctors to advise on treatment, if needed.
Consultant neurologist Dr Tim Rittman, who is leading the study by neuroscientists at Cambridge University, called the AI system a “fantastic development.”
He said: “These sets of diseases are really devastating for people, so when I am delivering this information to a patient, anything I can do to be more confident about the diagnosis, to give them more information about the likely progression of the disease to help them plan their lives is a great thing to be able to do.”
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