Facial Thermal Imaging: AI Forecasts Coronary Artery Disease


Real-time and non-invasive approaches happen to be more effective vis-à-vis conventional standards.

Testing now necessitates a larger and much more varied number of patients, researchers say.

A mix of facial thermal imaging as well as AI can go on to precisely forecast the coronary artery disease-CAD presence, research that’s published in the open access journal BMJ Health & Care Informatics has found out. Such kind of a non-invasive real-time procedure happens to be much more effective than the conventional counterpart and can very well be adopted for clinical practice so as to enhance the diagnosis and workflow accuracy, pending the testing on larger as well as more ethnically varied numbers of patients, suggest researchers.

As per the present guidelines, when it comes to the diagnosis of coronary heart disease, the same depends on the probability evaluation of the risk elements, which don’t happen to be accurate at all times or are applicable widely. And although these can very well be supplemented with certain other diagnostics like ECG readings, blood tests, and angiograms, they happen to be mostly time consuming along with being invasive. The fact is that thermal imaging, which happens to capture the temperature distribution as well as the variations of the surface of the object by way of detecting infrared radiation that is emitted by that very object, happens to be non-invasive, and it has also emerged as a very promising tool when it comes to disease assessment as it can go on to identify patches of abnormal blood circulation as well as inflammation from patterns of skin temperature.

The progress of machine learning technology with its capabilities to process, extract, and integrate intricate information might as well go on to elevate the accuracy and effectiveness pertaining to the thermal imaging diagnostics. The researchers, hence, set forth to look into the feasibility as far as the usage of thermal imaging plus AI is concerned in order to accurately anticipate the coronary artery disease presence sans the requirement for time-consuming techniques in 460 people with suspected heart disease.

The average happened to be 58, with 26 of them women. Apparently, the thermal images of their faces happened to get captured prior to confirmatory examinations so as to develop as well as validate an AI-assisted imaging model and thereby detect coronary artery disease. It is well to be noted that among the 322 participants, about 70% were confirmed to have coronary artery disease. Apparently, these people were older and were more likely to be men. In addition to this, they were expected to have risk factors pertaining to lifestyle, clinical, and biochemical and to make high use of preventive medicines.

It is well to be noted that thermal imaging along with the AI approach was almost 13% much better when it came to predicting coronary artery disease as compared to the pre-test risk assessment that involved traditional risk elements along with clinical signs and symptoms.

Within the three of the most crucial predictive thermal indicators, the most influential happened to be the overall left-right temperature as far as the face was concerned, which was then followed by the maximal facial temperature as well as the average facial temperature. And to be precise, the average temperature concerning the left jaw region happened to be the strongest predictive trait which was followed by the temp range of the right eye region and also the left-right temperature variance of the left temple regions. This approach also went over to traditionally identify traditional risk elements in terms of coronary artery disease, which predominantly were high cholesterol, smoking, overweight condition- BMI, fasting blood glucose, and other indicators when it comes to inflammation.

The researchers do take into account the typically small sample size and the fact that it was carried out at just one center. The study participants had also been referred in terms of confirmatory tests pertaining to suspected heart disease and according to them, the feasibility when it comes to thermal imaging-based coronary artery disease forecast goes on to suggest potential future applications as well as research opportunities. They go on to add that, as a biophysiological-based health evaluation modality, it happens to offer disease-relevant information that happens to go beyond the traditional clinical measures, which could very well enhance atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and also related chronic condition evaluation. The fact is that the non-contact and real-time nature enables an instant disease evaluation, and that too at the point of care, thereby streamlining the clinical workflows and saving time for critical decision-making that involves physician-patient.

Apart from this, it happens to have the potential to help mass pre-screening, with the researchers concluding that their developed thermal imaging prediction models that are based on advanced ML technology have gone on to exhibit quite promising potential vis-à-vis the present conventional clinical tools. All said and done, there are still further investigations that need to incorporate much larger sample sizes as well as diverse patient populations are required so as to validate the external validity as well as generalisability of the present findings.