Artificial intelligence (AI) has now made its way into the medical world. But it’s not as scary as it sounds. Most forms of AI are simply programs which have been developed to carry out very specific tasks–and they do them very well.
As part of my final-year project, I used AI to develop a program that can diagnose different types of brain haemorrhages. Brain haemorrhages are life-or-death situations where blood vessels in the brain burst and bleed into surrounding tissues, killing brain cells. Speed is key in preventing long-term brain damage, but treatment options depend on the size and location of the haemorrhage. This is when computerised tomography, or CT scans, come in.
Using X-rays, CT scans can image the brain in seconds. Last year, John Napier (another final-year project student) created an AI system to detect brain haemorrhages from CT scans. Building on this, I (under the supervision of Prof. Ing. Carl James Debono, Dr Paul Bezzina, and Dr Francis Zarb) developed a system to take the output from Napier’s system and further analyse the intensity, shape, and texture of haemorrhages to identify them as one of three types.
The AI was trained on 24 pre-classified CT scans. By presenting the scan image to the artificial neural network along with the answer, the system can take on the information and learn. This process trains it to become familiar with the types of haemorrhage. Two different structures of artificial neural network were used with 220 variants each–resulting in 440 variants being used to train and test the model.
Then it was time to test this system. Six scans were given as unknowns and the network successfully classified over 88% of the haemorrhages using only three of the 440 variants.
The purpose of this system is to verify radiologists’ diagnoses. However, we hope to develop it to diagnose haemorrhages, which would help treat patients faster. The system can be adapted to other illnesses–CT scans are commonly used to image the abdomen and chest. The applications, and life-saving potential, are endless.
This research was carried out as part of a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering at the Faculty of ICT, University of Malta.
Author: Kirsty Sant
The power to control objects with your mind was once a dream held by science fiction fans worldwide. But is this impossible feat now becoming possible? Dr Tracey Camilleri tells Becky Catrin Jones how a team at the University of Malta (UM) is using technology to harness this ability to help people with mobility problems.Continue reading
This is a murky area to discuss. Cognitive-Enhancing drugs are usually used to treat conditions such as sleeping disorders and ADHD. However, if taken by a person (and we do not recommend these pills) without these conditions, they can enhance the brain for a short time. But no gain comes without pain.
Side effects are a problem. Take coffee, a weak stimulant that increases focus for a short period. A person slowly builds up tolerance and an addiction to the effect of caffeine. The ability to maintain a normal state of focus now requires that cup of coffee. Mind enhancement drugs taken without a prescription could lead to sharper wits in the short term, however they could lead to addiction in the long term. Ritalin and Adderall, prescribed for ADHD, can also lead to heart problems.
The benefits many of these drugs give are usually minor—nothing like the movie Limitless. But while our minds do have limits, they are probably fewer than one might expect, especially if we push ourselves that extra mile.
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As a child, Prof. Noellie Brockdorff was fascinated by the robots that inhabited the world of Isaac Asimov’s novels. She wanted to know why humans are different to robots. So why are human beings not perfectly rational creatures like robots? Dr Claude Bajada finds out more.
Caffeine is a stimulant. It has a similar molecular structure to adenosine, a chemical linked to us feeling tired. Caffeine binds to adenosine and stops it from working. Coffee does not wake you up but makes your body forget it is tired.
Taking that espresso in the morning makes your body increase the number of receptors to caffeine in the brain. This increase makes us dependent on that cup of coffee in the morning to reach normal functional levels. On the other hand, cannabis has minimal risk of long-term addiction.
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By Rebecca Borg
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a neurodegenerative disease that causes motor neurons to deteriorate. These nerves are required for voluntary muscle activity control. Neuronal loss leads to progressive muscle weakness that makes it difficult for one to move and function normally. These devastating consequences make SMA the leading genetic killer of infants, who succumb to the effects of the condition within a few years.Continue reading
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