Artificial intelligence(AI) is on a rise in science. Using it in medicine and specifically nephrology is sure to come.
According to the dictionary, AI is “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
Dr Eric Topol has been a big proponent of this concept in medicine for years and recently has written a book called “Deep Medicine “ that details the potential uses of this in medicine.
Basically, AI can help in three main ways: 1) diagnosis that is often challenging in various challenging syndromes and even basic common ones. 2) make the physician’s life easier and decrease paper work and finally leading to the third -the most important 3) spending more time at the bedside.
AI is done via creating an artificial neural network (ANN ) which is simply a collection of artificial neurons organized in layers. In a recent article in AJKD, authors discuss the potential use of this concept in Nephrology. They describe using it for IgA nephropathy(IgAN) as a recognizable cause for AKI. The ability to identify the patients that will progress to ESRD with IgAN would be useful for prognostic and therapeutic reasons. Geddes et al hypothesized that there exists a function that associates clinical and biological parameters measured at the time of IgAN diagnosis (namely age, sex, blood pressure, proteinuria, serum creatinine level, and antihypertensive treatments) to the probability of developing progressive IgAN. The authors designed and implemented an ANN to approximate this function. The results showed that their ANN could predict the occurrence of progressive IgAN more accurately than experienced nephrologists (correct predictions, 87% vs 69.4%; sensitivity, 86.4% vs 72%; and specificity, 87.5% vs 66%). Hmm, now this might be interesting to help guide a lot of therapies in Nephrology. This might be very useful in transplantation and prognosticating even need for dialysis for the elderly CKD patients.
Interestingly, many AI algorithms have been approved by FDA that are used in clinical practice:- some examples are of Atrial fibrillation detection, EF ECHO determination, Coronary calcium scoring, CT brain bleed diagnosis, device for paramedic stroke diagnosis, breast density via mammography to name a few. No nephrology related such algorithms are approved to my knowledge.
There is an entire journal dedicated for this in medicine now
Nephrologists, let’s get started and catch on!