Can AI detect pulmonary emboli from CT scans? In a recent publication Sierra Research has teamed up with Universidad de Alicante to develop AI models for the detection of pulmonary emboli. We ranked top on the cad-pe challenge!
Abstract: Pulmonary Embolism (PE) is a respiratory disease caused by blood clots lodged in the pulmonary arteries, blocking perfusion, limiting blood oxygenation, and inducing a higher load on the right ventricle. Pulmonary embolism is diagnosed using contrast enhanced Computed Tomography Pulmonary Angiography (CTPA), resulting in a 3D image where the pulmonary arteries appear as bright structures, and emboli appear as filling defects, with these often being difficult to see, especially in the subsegmental case. In comparison to an expert panel, the average radiologist has a sensitivity of between 77% and 94% . Computer Aided Detection (CAD) is regarded as a promising system to detect emboli, but current algorithms are hindered by a high false positive rate. In this paper, we propose a novel methodology for emboli detection. Instead of finding candidate points and characterizing them, we find emboli directly on the whole image slice. Detections across different slices are merged into a single detection volume that is post-processed to generate emboli detections. The system was evaluated on a public PE database of 80 scans. On 20 test scans, our system obtained a per-embolus sensitivity of 68% at a regime of one false positive per scan, improving on state-of-the-art methods. We therefore conclude that our multi-slice emboli segmentation CAD for PE method is a valuable alternative to the standard methods of candidate point selection and classification.