Dr. Adhikari earns R21 award to incorporate artificial intelligence with bedside ultrasound

Srikar Adhikari, MD, MS, FACEP, professor of emergency medicine, has been awarded an R21 grant for $606,211 from the National Institutes of Health to fund a two-year project aimed at leveraging artificial intelligence and bedside ultrasound technology for faster and more accurate diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. The goal of this research is to improve outcomes for patients with this life-threatening condition.

“A significant number of people in the United States suffer from a pulmonary embolism,” Dr. Adhikari said. “This opportunity for us is to decrease the morbidity and mortality in this group of patients.”

Pulmonary embolisms are blood clots that become lodged in a blood vessel in a lung and block blood flow, posing a severe threat to patients. Some cases lead to right-sided heart dysfunction, when the right side of the heart does not work properly and has difficulties pumping blood, or hemodynamic collapse, an often-fatal condition resulting from a significant drop in blood pressure and circulation that starves organs and tissues of oxygen.

Dr. Adhikari hopes this technology can specifically help health care providers without expertise in interpreting electrocardiography images.

“We are proposing to develop an automated technology where the artificial intelligence algorithm can interpret the images acquired by the health care provider and give them an answer or a probability of something serious like a pulmonary embolism,” Dr. Adhikari said.

The research process involves training the AI using a vast database of bedside echocardiography images  labeled for signs of right-sided heart dysfunction. Through thousands of variations, the algorithm will learn to identify these signs and help the physicians find answers more quickly.

R21 grants are known as a “Trailblazer Awards,” and are given to projects that are exploratory, developmental, or are high-risk with the potential for high impact. Awardees may also use research approaches for which there are minimal or no preliminary data.

Dr. Adhikari will work with Elaine Situ-LaCasse, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, Josie Acuña, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, Adrienne Yarnish, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, and Alper Yilmaz, PhD, professor at the Ohio State University. Dr. Adhikari also recognizes the leadership of Samuel Keim, MD, MSc, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine.