AI could help doctors find hidden brain aneurysms

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A new study from UTHealth Houston shows that a computer program could do a better job than doctors at spotting dangerous aneurysms in the brain.

Brain aneurysms are like little time bombs that can be deadly if they burst. The study suggests that this technology might improve how doctors catch and treat these ticking time bombs before they go off.

The Problem: Missed Brain Aneurysms

Every year, around 30,000 people in the U.S. suffer from a ruptured brain aneurysm, a condition where a weak spot in a blood vessel in the brain bursts open.

This can be extremely dangerous and often life-threatening. Many people have aneurysms in their brain that haven’t burst yet. In fact, around 3 out of 100 people have these “sleeping” aneurysms. But spotting them isn’t easy.

Usually, doctors find out about these silent aneurysms when they’re looking at brain images for some other reason, like checking for a stroke.

But here’s the catch: a lot of these aneurysms go unnoticed. That means many people are walking around with a ticking time bomb in their head and don’t even know it.

The Study: Computers to the Rescue

A team of researchers led by Dr. Sunil A. Sheth looked at how a computer program using machine learning could help.

Machine learning is a kind of computer science where the computer learns from data to make decisions. The team used a program called Viz Aneurysm to look at special brain scans called CT angiograms.

They found something shocking: out of nearly 1,200 brain scans, the computer flagged 50 that possibly had a hidden aneurysm.

And guess what? It was right for most of them. The computer found 36 actual aneurysms, some people even had more than one.

The really concerning part? Two-thirds of these aneurysms had been missed by doctors during regular check-ups.

And some of these missed aneurysms were big enough to be of real concern. That’s like missing two out of every three ticking time bombs!

Why This Matters: Saving Lives and Improving Care

Dr. Sheth, who also runs a program on stroke care, said that machine learning has already shown it can help stroke patients. Now, it looks like it can also help spot these hidden dangers in the brain.

The researchers think this tech can do a lot to improve how we find and treat aneurysms. By using a program like Viz Aneurysm, doctors can get a heads-up about which brain scans they really need to pay attention to.

This isn’t just good for the patient; it’s good for the whole medical team. It means less guesswork and more targeted treatment.

And it could be especially important for stroke patients, who are already dealing with one serious brain issue and certainly don’t need another.

The study isn’t perfect; it only looked at people of a certain background and more research is needed. But the results so far are promising.

As one of the researchers, Anjan Nagesh Ballekere, said, “We hope to continue and improve upon this work to benefit patients.”

By catching more of these hidden aneurysms, we could be saving lives and stopping a health crisis before it even starts.

If you care about stroke, please read studies about what to eat for stroke prevention, and small surgery can prevent strokes in people with heart issues.

If you care about stroke, please read studies about a breakfast linked to better blood vessel health, and olive oil could help lower risks of heart disease and stroke.

The research findings can be found in Stroke: Vascular and Interventional Neurology.

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