Secondary Care

AI study at University Hospitals of Leicester shows potential

A study at University Hospitals of Leicester using an algorithm developed by health tech start up has shown promising results in investigating AI’s ability to prioritise potential cancers in the lungs.

The team worked with the trust to test the software which was run on the chest X-rays of 1,513 patients who had a GP direct referral for a chest X-ray over a two-week period in June and July 2019.

The algorithm works by delivering an ‘instant triage’ of each X-ray within seconds. All 1,513 examinations were analysed using the algorithm, with a particular focus on cases that were referred by a radiologist or reporting radiographer for a CT scan directly after X-ray, to confirm or rule out cancer.

The hospital radiology team suspected cancer in 39 out of the 1,513 X-rays and referred those 39 patients for a CT scan of the chest. Of the 39 suspected cases, 11 were eventually confirmed histologically to be cancer (through a tissue sample tested in the laboratory).

The algorithm correctly identified the presence and location of 10 out of the 11 histologically confirmed cancers.

Dr Indrajeet Das, a consultant radiologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust “The AI project is in its early days, but the initial outcomes are very promising. The next steps would be to run clinical trials to create a sound evidence base to demonstrate that it is both safe and beneficial in clinical practice.”

Against a back drop of increasing demand for chest X-rays and scans, the company said the algorithm could identify the abnormal radiographs quickly, which would quickly enable medical staff to prioritise the most urgent cases first.

Dr Thomas Naunton-Morgan,’s Medical Director “Radiologists, like those in the team we worked with in Leicester are keen to report the abnormal scans first, shortening the turnaround time for the patients that need the most urgent care. Therefore the potential for our algorithm to support this care pathway is a very exciting prospect.”