Australian doctors tackle brain aneurysms with artificial intelligence

29 Aug 2019

A new global partnership between Japanese artificial intelligence (AI) specialists, a US scanner manufacturer and Australian clinicians could dramatically improve diagnoses of a common, potentially fatal brain condition.

Four organisations – Fujitsu Australia, GE Healthcare, Macquarie University and Macquarie Medical Imaging – are applying AI techniques to scanned medical images to help detect brain aneurysms before symptoms develop.

The partnership has received a A$2.1 million grant from the Cooperative Research Centres Programme , which provides matched funding of up to A$3 million for industry-led collaborations.

According to Professor John Magnussen, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist at Macquarie Medical Imaging, diagnosing brain aneurysms is expertise-intensive, while missed aneurysms can have terrible outcomes.

‘By creating an AI assistant to automatically flag potential aneurysms and allow for accurate follow-up, we can make a huge difference to patient care,’ he says.

Brain aneurysms are swellings caused by weaknesses in the wall of a brain artery. Present in approximately two per cent of the population, a ruptured brain aneurysm has a high chance of causing death or permanent disability.

Fujitsu Australia is one of Australia’s premier information technology companies. The subsidiary’s Tokyo-based parent company is already using AI to address multiple analytical challenges in retail, transport and financial services around the world.

The new partnership will see Fujitsu Australia apply AI to patient images generated by GE’s Revolution CT scanner. AI trained algorithms will then seek out abnormalities associated with aneurysms.

Mike Foster, Chief Executive Officer of Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand, says that AI has the potential to solve difficult medical problems such as early diagnosis.

‘We are pleased to be part of this ‘co-creation’ initiative that leverages the strengths of each of our partners, as well as Fujitsu’s experience in AI,’ he says.

Macquarie University and Macquarie Medical Imaging will provide clinical expertise for the project. The initial focus will be on refining the technology to create a commercially viable diagnostic technique. Project members hope the technique can then be used by radiology practices in Australia and worldwide.

Professor Patrick McNeil, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Medicine and Health at Macquarie University says the project is an excellent example of health services collaborating with industry.

‘Macquarie University – with its own hospital and clinical expertise – is well placed to actively contribute to the development of applied medical innovations,’ he says. ‘We welcome the opportunity to work with leading information technology, healthcare and diagnostics companies, such as Fujitsu, GE and Macquarie Medical imaging.’