The FDA has authorized marketing of software to assist medical professionals in the acquisition of cardiac ultrasound, or echocardiography, images. The software, called Caption Guidance, is an accessory to compatible diagnostic ultrasound systems and uses artificial intelligence to help the user capture images of a patient’s heart that are of acceptable diagnostic quality.
The Caption Guidance software is indicated for use in ultrasound examination of the heart, known as two-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography (2D-TTE), for adult patients, specifically in the acquisition of standard views of the heart from different angles. These views are typically used in the diagnosis of various cardiac conditions.
“Echocardiograms are one of the most widely-used diagnostic tools in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease,” said Robert Ochs, Ph.D., deputy director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Today’s marketing authorization enables medical professionals who may not be experts in ultrasonography, such as a registered nurse in a family care clinic or others, to use this tool. This is especially important because it demonstrates the potential for artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to increase access to safe and effective cardiac diagnostics that can be life-saving for patients.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing one out of every four people, or approximately 647,000 Americans each year. The term heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type is coronary artery disease, which can cause heart attack. Other kinds of heart disease may involve the valves in the heart, or the heart may not pump well and cause heart failure.
Cardiac diagnostic tests are necessary to identify heart conditions. Among them are electrocardiograms (more widely known as an EKG or ECG), Holter monitors and cardiac ultrasound examinations. The software authorized today is the first software authorized to guide users through cardiac ultrasound image acquisition. The Caption Guidance software was developed using machine learning to train the software to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable image quality. This knowledge formed the basis of an interactive AI user interface that provides prescriptive guidance to users on how to maneuver the ultrasound probe to acquire standard echocardiographic images and video clips of diagnostic quality. The AI interface provides real-time feedback on potential image quality, can auto-capture video clips, and automatically saves the best video clip acquired from a particular view. Importantly, the cardiologist still reviews the images for a final assessment of the images and videos for patient evaluation.
The Caption Guidance software currently can be used with a specific FDA-cleared diagnostic ultrasound system produced by Teratech Corporation, with the potential to be used with other ultrasound imaging systems that have technical specifications consistent with the range of ultrasound systems used as part of the development and testing.
This February, the FDA is hosting a public workshop titled “Evolving Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Radiological Imaging” and seeks to discuss emerging applications of AI in radiological imaging, including AI devices intended to automate the diagnostic radiology workflow, as well as guided image acquisition. Discussions will also focus on best practices for the validation of AI-automated radiological imaging software and image acquisition devices, which is critical to assess safety and effectiveness.
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