NYU Langone, Facebook set out to develop AI-powered 5-minute MRI scan

Researchers at NYU Langone Health and Facebook's artificial intelligence division have teamed up to develop an AI model that uses less data and creates images faster than traditional MRI techniques, according to an Aug. 18 Wall Street Journal report. 

The goal of the project is to create a five-minute MRI as an alternative to the 20 minutes to an hour it takes for current MRI machines to scan a patient, Michael Recht, MD, told the publication. Dr. Recht is professor and chair of New York City-based NYU Langone Health's radiology department and also a co-author of the research project. 

The combination of AI and MRI technology aims to construct images with less data rather than diagnose a medical condition. The project uses different technology and standards than those used to create AI-generated or synthetic media. Because it centers on constructing MRI scans, Facebook said the project must create images "that are accurate to the ground truth," compared to synthetic media, which usually needs to create a believable image, according to the report. 

For the experiment, researchers created 108 patient images using standard MRI techniques as well as a second set of images in which some of the image data was thrown out. Facebook's AI model was then applied to construct the images with less data. Researchers used commercially available MRI machines, and data was collected from patients from various points of their bodies. 

Six MRI readers reviewed both sets of images, and readings were spaced out across a four-week period to ensure the readers could not recall important details from previous sets. Dr. Recht told the Journal that all six engineers concluded that the quality of the AI model-generated images was "as good [as] or better" than the conventional images. 

The AI system still needs regulatory approval, but NYU Langone is now using it to treat patients as part of an institutional review board study, according to the report.

More articles on artificial intelligence: 
Healthcare provider and payer execs point to AI, robotics as next industry disruptors: report 
NIH launches AI-focused COVID-19 database of chest scans
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