iCAD and major breast imaging center company Solis Mammography announced plans to develop and commercialize AI that quantifies breast arterial calcifications (BACs) in mammograms to identify women with high cardiovascular disease (CVD) risks.
Through the multi-year alliance, iCAD and Solis will expand upon iCAD’s flagship ProFound AI solution’s ability to detect and quantify BACs, with the goal of helping radiologists identify women with high CVD risks and guide them into care.
iCAD and Solis’ expansion into cardiovascular disease screening wasn’t exactly expected, but recent trends certainly suggest that commercial AI-based BAC detection could be on the way:
- There’s a growing list of studies showing that women with BACs have far higher risks of future CVD, and radiologists don’t have a consistent approach for reporting incidental BAC findings.
- There’s also mounting academic and commercial momentum behind using AI to “opportunistically” screen for incidental findings in scans that were performed for other reasons (e.g. analyzing CTs for CAC scores, osteoporosis, or lung nodules).
- Despite being the leading cause of death in the US, it appears that we’re a long way from formal heart disease screening programs, making the already-established mammography screening pathway an unlikely alternative.
- Volpara and Microsoft are also working on a mammography AI product that detects and quantifies BACs. In other words, three of the biggest companies in breast imaging (at least) and one of the biggest tech companies in the world are all currently developing AI-based BAC screening solutions.
Widespread adoption of mammography AI-based cardiovascular disease screening might seem like a longshot to many readers who often view incidentals as a burden and have grown weary of early-stage AI announcements… and they might be right. That said, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that a solution like this would help detect more early-stage heart disease using scans that are already being performed.