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Anticipating heart failure with machine learning

It can be difficult for clinicians to distinguish between different severity levels of pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs). A new algorithm aims to make that distinction automatically by looking at a single X-ray image. Credit: James Heilman/Creative Commons

Every year, roughly one out of eight U.S. deaths is caused at least in part by heart failure. One of acute heart failure’s most common warning signs is excess fluid in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary edema.

A patient’s exact level of excess fluid often dictates the doctor’s course of action, but making such determinations is difficult and requires clinicians to rely on subtle features in X-rays that sometimes lead to inconsistent diagnoses and treatment plans.

To better handle that kind of nuance, a group led by researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has developed a that can look at an X-ray to quantify how severe the edema is, on a four-level scale ranging from 0 (healthy) to 3 (very, very bad). The system determined the right level more than half of the time, and correctly diagnosed level 3 cases 90 percent of the time.

Working with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Philips, the team plans to integrate the model into BIDMC’s emergency-room workflow this fall.

“This project is meant to augment doctors’ workflow by providing additional information that can be used to inform their diagnoses as well as enable retrospective analyses,” says Ph.D. student Ruizhi Liao, who was the co-lead author of a related paper with fellow Ph.D. student Geeticka Chauhan and MIT professors Polina Golland and Peter Szolovits.

The team says that better edema diagnosis would help doctors manage not only acute heart issues, but other conditions like sepsis and kidney failure that are strongly associated with

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Bronchoscopy and Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL): MedlinePlus Medical Test

What are bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)?

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows a health care provider to look at your lungs. It uses a thin, lighted tube called a bronchoscope. The tube is put through the mouth or nose and moved down the throat and into the airways. It helps diagnose and treat certain lung diseases.

Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is a procedure that is sometimes done during a bronchoscopy. It is also called bronchoalveolar washing. BAL is used to collect a sample from the lungs for testing. During the procedure, a saline solution is put through the bronchoscope to wash the airways and capture a fluid sample.

Other names: flexible bronchoscopy, bronchoalveolar washing

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