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13 Aug 2019

Macquarie University is collaborating on a research program aimed at improving brain aneurysm diagnoses. The project is focused on developing a solution that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and monitor brain aneurysms on scans faster and more efficiently.

The project has received a Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grant of AU$2.1M from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. Macquarie University and Macquarie Medical Imaging, along with Fujitsu Australia, and GE Healthcare have partnered in the research.

Brain aneurysms, a common disorder caused by a weakness in the wall of a brain artery, are present in between two and eight per cent of adults, with multiple aneurysms in more than 10 per cent of these people. Rupture of an aneurysm causes brain haemorrhage in 85 per cent of cases, leading to death in 30-40 per cent of people and 20 per cent permanent disability in those who survive.

Fujitsu will lead the initiative and leverage its AI and digital solutions capability through its dedicated innovation team in Australia. GE Healthcare will contribute through its leading medical imaging technology. Macquarie University and Macquarie Medical Imaging will provide clinical expertise for the development and testing of the technology. Initially the project will focus on refining the technology with a view to creating a fully commercialised solution that will be distributed initially through radiology practices in Australia and eventually on a worldwide basis.

Professor John Magnussen, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist at Macquarie Medical Imaging, said: “This is an amazing opportunity to be able to address the problem of the rapid and accurate diagnosis of brain aneurysms. Even in ideal circumstances, detecting brain aneurysms is time and expertise intensive and missed aneurysms can have terrible outcomes. By creating an AI assistant to automatically flag potential aneurysms and allow for accurate follow-up, we can make a huge difference to patient care.”

Professor Patrick McNeil, Deputy Vice Chancellor Medicine and Health at Macquarie University, said: “This is an excellent example of the MQ Health model of Heal, Learn and Discover in action with industry. Macquarie University, with its own hospital and clinical expertise is well placed to actively contribute to the development of applied medical innovations.”

As a part of the project, Fujitsu will apply AI methods to images of the brain generated by GE’s Revolution CT scanner, and use a specifically-trained algorithm to look for abnormalities and aneurysms.

Outcomes from this project are anticipated to include the development and validation of an AI algorithm capable of highlighting blood vessels within the circle of Willis, an arterial ring sited at the base of the brain, that may have one or more aneurysms. This technology will also allow the tracking of identified aneurysms over time, providing radiologists with a valuable diagnostic support tool and patients with greater peace of mind that known aneurysms are being effectively monitored over the long term.

A second element to the project will include a planning tool for surgical (stent) intervention. This tool will use fluid dynamic modelling to predict the risk of aneurysm rupture.

Published: 13 Aug 2019