Researchers utilized AI to analyze CT scans, discovering lung deformities to the surfaces of the lungs in severe COVID-19 patients.

RT’s Three Key Takeaways:

  1. AI Reveals Significant Lung Deformities: Using artificial intelligence, researchers analyzed CT scans of over 3,400 patients and discovered significant lung damage, particularly in those with severe COVID-19.
  2. Potential Long-Term Health Impact: The study suggests that lung deformities caused by severe COVID-19 can impair lung function, affecting overall health, quality of life, and potentially increasing mortality rates.
  3. Comprehensive Lung Damage Mapping: The AI technology employed created detailed maps of lung damage, comparing healthy individuals with mild and severe COVID-19 patients, offering insights into the extent and potential lasting effects of lung deformations caused by the virus.

A study led by Emory University’s AI.Health has utilized artificial intelligence (AI) to reveal significant lung damage in severe COVID-19 patients.

As the immediate threat of COVID-19 subsides, researchers say investigating the virus’ lasting impacts remains essential. The study. published in the Journal of Computers in Medicine and Biology, used AI to analyze CT scans from over 3,400 patients across multiple institutions. 

These patients were categorized into three groups: healthy individuals, those with mild COVID-19, and those with severe COVID-19 requiring ventilator support. 

The analysis revealed that patients with severe COVID-19 experienced significant deformities to the surfaces of the lungs, particularly along the mediastinal and basal surfaces. Researchers suggest that these lung deformations are likely to impair lung function—ultimately affecting human health and quality of life, and potentially increasing overall mortality. 

The Role of AI in Lung Analysis

The AI technology used in the study employed a 3D residual convolutional network to segment and analyze lung images. This approach allowed researchers to create a detailed map of lung deformations, identifying specific areas of damage. By comparing lung images of healthy individuals with those of mild and severe COVID-19 patients, the AI provided a comprehensive map of lung deformations, highlighting the extent of the damage caused by severe COVID-19.

One of the study’s goals was to demonstrate how AI can systematically evaluate the long-term effects of COVID-19 on internal organs. The ability to identify and quantify lung damage through AI not only helps researchers understand the immediate impact of severe COVID-19 but also offers insight into the potential lingering effects on lung function.

What the Experts Say

“Although the acute phase of COVID-19 has largely been mitigated, the persistence and impact of long COVID remains a concern. Our AI analysis identified specific areas of lung damage that could have enduring consequences,” says Anant Madabhushi, PhD, executive director of Emory AI.Health and principal investigator of the study, in a release. “While we have not yet examined long COVID patients explicitly, it’s crucial to investigate whether these individuals exhibit residual lung deformation, which could provide valuable insights into the long-term effects of this disease.

Amogh Hiremath, an AI scientist at Picture Health and first author of the study, adds in a release, “COVID-19 can cause serious complications such as pneumonia, severe lung damage, and blood infections, which can lead to lasting lung problems like scarring and chronic breathing issues. While some people recover fully, others may suffer permanent lung damage. Understanding how COVID-19 affects the lungs during its early onset can help us better understand and treat the disease.”

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