Signify Premium Insight: Opportunistic Screening – An Avenue For AI

Published: June 8, 2021

The earlier a condition is detected, the better the condition can be treated. This fundamental principle is ingrained in medicine, yet many cases still go undetected, and therefore untreated for extended periods, even when patients undergo assessment for other unrelated conditions or symptoms.

In some instances, AI could provide an answer. Several recent studies and developments have utilised machine learning tools to automatically assess medical images for life-threatening conditions that often go undiagnosed, from images taken for another purpose. One recent study from Stanford University, for example, detailed an AI tool that automatically scored a patient’s level of coronary artery calcification (CAC), one of the indicators of coronary artery disease. Critically this tool would be used for opportunistic screening, assigning a CAC score to any patient that receives a chest CT scan, regardless of the reason the scan was performed, whether as part of a lung cancer screening programme, or in response to a specific condition.

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