by Srivallabh Sabnivisu
The Stethoscope was first invented in 1816 by French physician René Théophile Hyacinthe Laënnec in Paris. The doctor was embarrassed to use the traditional method of Immediate Auscultation at the time on a female patient. Over the past 200 years, the stethoscope has become the ultimate symbol of the medical community. It seems to have a symbol of competency and credibility when seen dangling on the neck of a doctor or nurse.
However, surprisingly, the professionals who regularly use these advanced instruments often misunderstand the breathing patterns of the patient for heart or lung conditions. This can lead them to mistakenly refer patients to cardiologists for further (and expensive) testing.
So, technically speaking, when it comes to identifying evidence of a potential heart attack, doctors are literally just playing it by ear.
Reliably diagnosing heart failure is a great difficulty for many GPs in the UK, with the symptoms being very common. Difficulty breathing, a cough, and tiredness are just some of the symptoms, which can make it very difficult to distinguish between a minor ailment and a major disease that requires medical attention.
In the UK, around 60,000 cases of heart disease are diagnosed every year. 48,000 of these cases only come to light at the emergency stage, meaning that patients have to be admitted to the hospital for efficient medical care. At this point, much of the damage had been done.
But, due to the relentless and extended efforts of Berkeley Engineers Tyler Crouch and Connor Landgraf, the stethoscope is due for a life-changing upgrade. Algorithms have been developed that, with the assistance of AI and a digital stethoscope, can diagnose patients with heart disease at much greater accuracy and at a much earlier stage. Their AI stethoscope can diagnose heart failure within 15 seconds.
The federal Food and Drug Administration(FDA) approved almost a dozen of their algorithms, which can detect heart murmurs and atrial fibrillation.
The trial of the device, conducted by Imperial College London, found it to be highly effective, correctly identifying 91% of cases. Although this may not be the optimal effectiveness, the device is only to be used at the primary diagnosis, and there will be more tests run to diagnose the patient if needed.
The device uses a mixture of Artificial Intelligence and algorithms to analyse the data from their stethoscope. The data consists of records of the heart’s rhythm, electrical activity, and the sounds it makes. If the beating/pumping of the patient’s heart is weaker, then it immediately diagnoses the patient with heart failure. The stethoscope also has built-in electrodes to record an ECG.
The Eko Duo Stethoscope is a revolutionary instrument, that can improve the efficiency and accuracy of heart diagnosis in our current world. With further advanced AI being developed, this can be incorporated into many medical procedures that take place.
Bawden, T. (2022). New AI stethoscope can diagnose heart failure in 15 seconds. [online] inews.co.uk. Available at: https://inews.co.uk/news/science/new-ai-stethoscope-can-diagnose-heart-failure-15-seconds-1443766 [Accessed 5 Feb. 2022].
Lee, T. (2020). Artificial intelligence gives stethoscopes a much-needed upgrade. [online] Berkeley Engineering. Available at: https://engineering.berkeley.edu/news/2020/03/artificial-intelligence-gives-stethoscopes-a-much-needed-upgrade/ . [Accessed 5 Feb. 2022]