Faster diagnosis of endometriosis with AI

March 19, 2024

Their goal is to develop an algorithm to assist doctors in interpreting the ultrasound data of the womb during the initial examination in order to diagnose endometriosis reliable and much faster. It was only when he was studying for his Master’s degree that he had the opportunity to combine artificial intelligence (AI) and medicine. After completing his Master’s degree he continued the research work in a doctoral project. Bajka contacted his research group asking whether AI could be used to detect endometriosis. For his doctoral project, the ETH researcher developed an algorithm enabling the better interpretation of ultrasound data of the heart.

Endometriosis is widespread. Around ten percent of all women of childbearing age throughout the world suffer from it. And “suffer” is the operative word here, as it takes an average of eight to twelve years for these benign growths of the endometrium in the abdominal cavity to be diagnosed. Years in which women endure severe pain generally before and during menstruation.

In order to reliably diagnose endometriosis, many gynaecologists still rely on a laparoscopy performed under general anaesthetic. However, this procedure is not only laborious and onerous for patients but also relatively costly. While endometriosis could be diagnosed for most patients via ultrasound, this calls for a certain degree of experience as it can easily go undetected.

AI expert Fabian Laumer and gynaecologist Michael Bajka therefore founded the spin-off dAIgnose in the summer of 2023. Their goal is to develop an algorithm to assist doctors in interpreting the ultrasound data of the womb during the initial examination in order to diagnose endometriosis reliable and much faster. They are receiving specialist support from the ETH AI Center and their two co-founders ETH Computer Science Professor Joachim Buhmann and Julian Metzler, an endometriosis specialist at University Hospital Zurich.

Entrepreneurs by chance

The fact that Laumer is today developing medical solutions is something he owes on two counts to chance. For although medicine and biology already fascinated him as a child, he initially studied electrical engineering and information technology. It was only when he was studying for his Master’s degree that he had the opportunity to combine artificial intelligence (AI) and medicine. “I heard by chance that Buhmann’s research group was offering a Master’s thesis on the AI-based analysis of ultrasound data of the heart,” explains Laumer. He immediately applied – and was successful.

After completing his Master’s degree he continued the research work in a doctoral project. And once again chance came to his aid. Bajka contacted his research group asking whether AI could be used to detect endometriosis. Laumer was exactly the right person for the gynaecologist specialising in endometriosis to put his question to. For his doctoral project, the ETH researcher developed an algorithm enabling the better interpretation of ultrasound data of the heart. This approach was then transferred to the womb.

Creating a 3D model from 2D images

Laumer and Bajka developed an algorithm that identifies pathologies on the ultrasound images of the womb that are often difficult or even impossible for the human eye to see. To this end, Laumer trained the algorithm with ultrasound images and patient data. “The number of pregnancies and Caesareans, age or phase in the menstrual cycle – all these factors obviously influence the appearance of the womb,” he explains.

The source of this news is from ETH Zurich

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