Future Testing Will Be Music to Patients' Ears
Computer software also can be used to increase the value of imaging tests.
Doctors miss one in four breast cancers with mammograms, but computer-aided
diagnosis makes doctors better, according to David Ku, MD, PhD, an assistant
professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine and professor of
mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, both in Atlanta.
With Ku's Internet-based application, doctors can compare abnormalities to a
growing database of digital mammograms, providing a virtual second opinion. In
addition to early cancer detection, Ku believes computer-aided diagnosis will
reduce the number of false positive readings, resulting in fewer breast
biopsies. The makers plan to launch the program in January.
Intelligent computers also may provide an alternative to the arteriogram,
where a small tube is fed through the groin to view blood vessels of the heart
and neck. "A traditional MRI scan [similar to an x-ray] overestimates
blockage, but artificial intelligence makes it as accurate as an arteriogram,
without all the risks," says Harris Bergman, PhD, a biomedical engineer and
co-founder of Atlanta-based MediZeus. "Bergman tells WebMD that the
MRAngiogram will be available in about three years at one quarter the cost of
the traditional method.
- Researchers say over the next few years, a new generation of laboratory
tests and imaging techniques will become available to help doctors screen
patients for disease. The advances promise to be less invasive and may even be
cheaper than current procedures.
- Computers and data bases may even help doctors analyze test results so
fewer patients with diseases are missed.
- The new techniques will supply physicians with different initial tests to
diagnose disease before they have to resort to the standard tests that are used