New AI can detect plaque erosion and could help prevent heart attacks

Researchers have created a new AI method that can find plaque erosion in heart arteries. The technician uses optical coherence tomography (OCT) images to look at the arterial plaque.

This finding is helpful because a heart attack or other serious heart disease can start before the plaque breaks down. OCT can take 3D images of the coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart muscles.

Additionally, OCT has been used to look for plaque erosion. But because there are so many data points and the images are hard to understand, the results are very different. The researchers used AI to figure out how to fix this problem.

How does AI technology work?

Photo credit: TIT Education

The new method for AI consists of two main steps. First, an AI model called a neural network looks at the original image and two ways to predict where plaque erosion will occur.

The prediction is then further improved by a post-processing algorithm that mimics the knowledge of a medical professional to make a diagnosis.

Zhao Wang, from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, says: “We had to create a new AI model that explicitly included information, which is the key feature used to find plaque erosion in OCT images. The underlying intravascular OCT imaging technology is also important because it is currently the highest-resolution imaging modality that can be used to diagnose plaque erosion in living patients.

The researchers tested the new method and found that the automated method could predict 80% of plaque erosion cases with a positive predictive value of 73.3%. In addition, the AI ​​diagnoses were the same as those made by doctors with years of experience.

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Zhao said: “Our new method could help improve the way plaque erosion is diagnosed in the clinic and be used to make new treatments for people with heart disease.”

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