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NHS trust to test AI’s ability to detect blood clots in patients

A trial will aim to discover whether AI is able to spot blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolic disease) of patients quicker and more accurately than doctors.

This in turn could save lives, those involved in the Royal United Hospitals (RUH) Bath NHS FoundationTrust trial say.

RUH was awarded an £830,000 grant by an NHS programme to promote innovations, Accelerated Access Collaboration, to pilot the scheme.

RUH radiologists will work on the initiative with University of Bath engineering researchers.

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They will also team up with healthcare AI companies AIDOC and IMBIO to analyse Computerised Tomography (CT) scans of patients with suspected pulmonary embolisms.

It is believed that the up-and-coming technology could spot “patterns’ quicker than a human could. If successful, the scheme could be rolled out to other NHS trusts in the UK.

Jonathan Rodrigues, RUH consultant cardiothoracic radiologist, who is leading the study, said: “We hope that by working with our AI partners, using the very latest artificial intelligence tools, we can help to save lives and get the very best value for money for the NHS.”

Prof Jay Suntharalingam, director of the Bath Pulmonary Hypertension Service, added: “The RUH provides specialist pulmonary hypertension care to approximately four million people in our region. I am excited that we will be continuing our work with the University of Bath to develop our own AI tool.”

A pulmonary embolism is a blocked blood vessel in your lungs. It can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. The condition happens when blood clots cause blockages in lung arteries.

At the moment, an injection is given by doctors of anticoagulant medicine immediately when one is considered a possibility. This is because anticoagulants stop blood clots from getting bigger and prevent new clots from forming.

If tests confirm you have a pulmonary embolism, patients continue with anticoagulant injections for at least five days.

It is hoped AI will allow a pulmonary embolism to be spotted at the earliest opportunity. The earlier a pulmonary embolism is spotted, the more likely a full recovery will be made.

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