Integrating AI in OB/GYN Ultrasound: Guide for Medical Professionals

The evolution of AI is gradually growing at unprecedented levels, and experts are perfectly integrating it in numerous fields. As such, the application of AI has long passed as just theory and has set its foot down inside the realm of medicine.

Its use has shown excellent results in various hospital operations. It is frequently relied upon in several studies, such as laboratory medicine, pathology, radiology, etc., to mitigate error while performing different tasks, revolutionizing patient care.

Additionally, while the application of artificial intelligence has spanned hundreds of clinical advancements, its implementation in OB/GYN was in its baby years if compared. 

However, there have been exceeding results in recent years. AI is now expected to perform several critical tasks in obstetrics and gynecology, offering exceptional aid to patients and doctors alike. 

Today, we help you discover how AI integration with ultrasound technology transforms clinical diagnostics. You can learn more about the innovations, practical applications, and benefits of AI-powered ultrasound for clinic doctors to enhance diagnostic accuracy and patient care.

What is AI In Ultrasound?

Ultrasound

Most of us are well-versed in AI (artificial intelligence), which is described as a computer program that can perform various processes similar to or better than human intelligence, such as learning, interaction, sensory understanding, reasoning, and adaptation. 

AI in ultrasound is the application of artificial intelligence to ultrasound imaging to enhance aspects such as image quality, interpretation, and analysis, as well as accurate diagnostics. 

It utilizes machine learning, a subfield of AI, that allows them to imitate human intelligence. To better understand AI in ultrasound, we need to go over the three types of Machine learning:

  • Supervised Learning- The AI is trained using numerous images with all the correct information, such as measurements and diagnoses. This ensures that the AI learns and recognizes patterns and detects problems precisely. 
  • Unsupervised Learning—This process involves training the AI with images that aren’t labeled with information like in supervised learning, to help the AI find trends and structures without any assistance. 
  • Reinforcement Learning—This involves a continuous learning process through trial and error. It’s like letting the AI learn from past mistakes to get more accurate results and achieve faster processes. 

Combining all these machine learning subtypes is the idea of neural networks, a concept inspired by human brains. Neural networks help the AI weigh in factors, adjust various outputs, and learn from past mistakes. They utilize ultrasounds, making them more efficient and convenient and offering more accurate diagnostics and detection results.

For instance, a recent test was done using an AI trained in estimating gestational age from blindly acquired ultrasound sweeps. The AI performed better than Sonographers with the same training and estimated the gestational age closer to the actual age.

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How Is AI Being Used In Ultrasound?

 

The introduction of AI in ultrasounds has successfully mitigated the numerous manual operations performed by healthcare professionals before, advancing the technology to offer accurate automated diagnostic assessments. 

These advancements are crucial in transforming ultrasounds into a new, robust, accessible, and reliable source of answers to patients’ problems and well-being. 

Let’s discuss a few particular areas of AI in ultrasound that are generally celebrated and used:

Automation

AI can now make automated diagnostic evaluations and judgments through measurement, feedback, and analysis of images in real time using the neural network. In addition, pictures are now enhanced with more quality since automation also includes AI algorithms to assist with perfect positioning.

This allows healthcare professionals to drastically speed up the process and focus more on patient care rather than manually operating the types of equipment. 

Improved Diagnostic Accuracy

With the help of AI, ultrasounds can now increase the accuracy of diagnostics since the algorithms are designed to detect precise variations, features, patterns, and abnormalities that average professionals often miss due to their nature. 

This advancement helps enhance the early detection and diagnosis of fatal conditions, such as certain types of tumors, and it also reduces the chances of human errors that normally lead to undesirable outcomes.

Key Insights

The artificial intelligence in ultrasounds offers key insights that help healthcare professionals locate risks that could lead to more serious diseases, enhance their judgment, and improve patient quality.

This is done by utilizing AI to analyze ultrasound images and large datasets (laboratory results, patient history, etc.) and identify patterns. This helps doctors better understand the disease in question and predict outcomes.

What Are The Benefits Of AI In Ultrasound?

Benefits Of AI In UltrasoundMost people were cautious about the new AI-powered ultrasounds because they seemed exhaustingly futuristic and too good to be true, but the impact they have been making can change even the most adamant minds.

In addition to the previously mentioned celebrated areas that AI takes charge in, let’s discuss a few benefits of AI in ultrasound that medical professionals need to be up to date on:

Educational Support

Apart from the exciting benefits we’ve mentioned, such as critical insights/real-time feedback, automation, diagnostic accuracy, etc., the introduction of AI-powered ultrasounds is also used to educate future sonographers and obstetrics trainees.

Leaving out the step-by-step tutorials featuring AI platforms that mentors can give their trainees, these AI-powered ultrasounds can give hands-on experience by using real-time feedback features.

Since the feedback features offer insights, highlight errors, and provide suggestions in case corrections are needed, trainees can use the AI-powered ultrasound during their practice scans.

Ease Of Use

As complex as it sounds, AI-powered ultrasounds not only make everything more efficient and accurate but also convenient, as they are easy to use compared to traditional ultrasounds. 

With machine learning in place, images are incredibly decent; everything is automated, and professionals are always assisted. This makes complex tasks more accessible and ensures optimal results with minimal effort.

Consistency

Unlike handling traditional ultrasounds, where the image typically relies on the professional’s experience and skills, AI completely removes this from the equation and delivers consistent imaging.

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Variabilities are reduced if not deleted since artificial intelligence ensures that image acquisition and measurements are performed identically across numerous sessions and professionals.

The high-quality image standard is also maintained due to automated positioning and angle, making the procedure devoid of errors that usually stem from human operations.

How Is Artificial Intelligence Used In OB/GYN Ultrasound?

OB/GYN UltrasoundProbe Guidance

AI utilizes the neural networks we’ve discussed before to aid in probe guidance by making the image process done in ultrasound more accurate and efficient. These are some of the areas that AI offers aid in probe guidance but are not limited to:

  • Ideal Positioning—The AI algorithms locate the best possible location and angle for taking high-resolution images by analyzing real-time ultrasound images, removing the hours-long manual adjustment process.
  • Enhanced High-Resolution Images—The probe settings are continually monitored and adjusted so that the images taken maintain complete visual clarity and detailing. 
  • Feedback—With AI-powered ultrasounds, healthcare professionals receive guidance in real time, suggest movements, and highlight areas that require scanning. This feature is beneficial for less experienced professionals.

Fetal Biometric Planes

In fetal biometric planes, AI-powered ultrasounds are enhanced and trained in several essential elements. For starters, AI algorithms are trained, making them experts in recognizing particular landmarks and biometric planes required for automated fetal measurements.

Additionally, AI helps professionals get real-time feedback and guidance on optimal positioning required to capture the specific biometric plane in question. Moreover, AI offers consistency and enhancement of image quality that minimizes common human errors.

Anomaly Scan Completeness

Like any ultrasound operation, ensuring the completeness of an anomaly scan relies heavily on a professional’s experience and skills. While they follow standard guidelines and protocols that ensure a thorough evaluation of the anomaly, manually identifying and capturing images is sometimes not reliable since some of these abnormalities can be hidden from the naked eye.

The AI-powered ultrasounds help professionals with their standard scanning protocols with real-time guidance and feedback, alerting them if any measurements or views are missed.

Additionally, by analyzing the ultrasound images, the AI algorithms automatically locate and highlight any potential abnormalities in real-time. This makes the documentation process, accuracy, call to action, judgment, and other standard processes efficient and reliable.

Conclusion

Today, the integration of AI in OB/GYN  ultrasounds has made performing critical tasks more efficient, accessible, reliable, consistent, and accurate, aiding healthcare professionals in predicting, detecting, and providing the highest level of medical care and assistance.

The impact AI is leaving with its latest innovations proves that the realm of medicine will be changed entirely. While AI-powered ultrasounds won’t replace physicians anytime shortly, professionals well-versed with these latest trends and innovations like AI-powered ultrasounds are expected to leap further than those that don’t in the coming future.

Dr. Tuan Nguyen, DO is a family medicine specialist in Arlington, TX and has over 24 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine in 1999. He is affiliated with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. He is accepting new patients and telehealth appointments.

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