Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) programme that can predict when a patient's is likely to die, simply by looking at images of their organs with 69 per cent accuracy.
"Predicting the future of a patient is useful because it may enable doctors to tailor treatments to the individual," said lead author Luke Oakden-Rayner, radiologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
In the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the team used artificial intelligence to analyse the medical imaging of 48 patients' chests.
The computer-based analysis was able to predict which patients would die within five years, with 69 per cent accuracy, the researchers observed.
"The accurate assessment of biological age and the prediction of a patient's longevity has so far been limited by doctors' inability to look inside the body and measure the health of each organ," Oakden-Rayner said.
"Our research has investigated the use of 'deep learning', a technique where computer systems can learn how to understand and analyse images," he added.
While the researchers could not identify exactly what the computer system was seeing in the images to make its predictions, the most confident predictions were made for patients with severe chronic diseases such as emphysema and congestive heart failure.
The researchers now hope to apply the same techniques to predict other important medical conditions, such as the onset of heart attacks.
"Our research opens new avenues for the application of artificial intelligence technology in medical image analysis, and could offer new hope for the early detection of serious illness, requiring specific medical interventions," Oakden-Rayner noted.