The advisory emphasizes that the computer-aided triage and notification (CADt) devices, many of which incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning technology, are intended to aid radiologists in prioritizing the assessment of brain imaging that may reveal signs of large vessel occlusion (LVO).
Suggesting that some radiologists may not be aware of the intended use of computer-aided triage and notification (CADt) devices, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on the use of the imaging software for patients with suspected large vessel occlusion (LVO) in the brain.
Emphasizing proper use of CADt software, the FDA notes these devices are not intended to substitute for diagnostic assessment by radiologists. While CADt devices can help flag and prioritize brain imaging with findings that are suspicious for LVO, the advisory points out that an LVO, a common cause of acute ischemic strokes, may still be present even if it is not flagged by the CADt imaging software.
If there is any potential over-reliance on CADt software, Vivek Bansal, MD said it may stem from a team of health-care providers striving to do the right thing for the patient under tight time constraints. While interventionalists, neurosurgeons and neurologists all have strong knowledge of brain vessels, there may be different levels of experience, according to Dr. Bansal, the national subspecialty lead for neuroradiology at Radiology Partners. He added that while these specialists look closely at images they take in the operating suite, “they may not look at the actual CT images to the same level.”
In regard to the imaging, Dr. Bansal said one may be looking at tiny branching vessels that are diving up and down into different slices of the images, and you have to scroll up and down to really trace them out vessel by vessel. This can be challenging and particularly hard to do on a smartphone in a brightly lit room, pointed out Dr. Bansal.
“The clock is ticking, and time is brain. We are trying to race against the clock because every minute we take to arrive at a diagnosis, more brain cells may be dying (if the patient has a clot). The quicker we can get them to a diagnosis and the patient gets to a cath lab, the better the outcomes for the patient. I think that is the biggest challenge: trying to do something that is very meticulous in a very small amount of time,” explained Dr. Bansal.
The FDA advisory also maintained that it is important to have awareness of the design capabilities of different CADt devices, many of which have artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning technology, For example, the FDA cautioned that LVO CADt devices may not assess all intracranial vessels. Dr. Bansal said this is an important distinction with AI tools.
“While some AI tools are very good at looking at an M1 occlusion, which is the proximal part of the middle cerebral artery, the newer AI tools are capable of looking at M2 occlusions with proximal anterior cerebral artery (ACA) and posterior cerebral artery (PCA) occlusions. All of these things are important in terms of patient care,” maintained Dr. Bansal, who is affiliated with the East Houston Pathology Group in Texas.
Dr. Bansal said the key is understanding the role of AI-enabled devices and their value in triaging cases.
“At any given moment, I might have 40 stat exams on my list. I’m cranking through them as fast as I can but if AI tools are saying 'Hey, look at this one next,’ whether it is a potential large vessel occlusion or brain bleed, that is very helpful,” suggested Dr. Bansal. “ … Where we are at right now, I think that the only way we can look at AI is to look at it as a triaging tool.”