RapidAI speeds up pulmonary embolism diagnosis with FDA clearance for AI triage tool

After experiencing a steady drop throughout the first decade of this century, the death rate from pulmonary embolism—in which a blood clot travels to the lungs and blocks blood flow—is back on the rise. Younger people are particularly affected. Premature and preventable deaths increased 23% between 2008 and 2018 in people aged 25 to 64, according to research published in 2020.

The FDA has now cleared an artificial intelligence tool that aims to reverse that trend by speeding up diagnosis so that treatment can begin sooner.

RapidAI, a California-based startup, developed the software. The company landed FDA clearance in 2020 for another AI tool that can detect signs of large vessel occlusions in brain CT scans , potentially allowing doctors to intervene before the blockage causes a debilitating or even fatal stroke.

RapidAI’s newest technology, its Rapid PE Triage & Notification tool, automatically analyzes CT pulmonary angiograms, which depict the pulmonary arteries between the heart and lungs. If the software spots signs of a potential pulmonary embolism, it immediately issues an alert to the patient’s care team through RapidAI’s mobile and desktop app.

Within the app, clinicians can look over the AI’s findings on their phone or computer, then send direct messages to the rest of the care team to begin coordinating treatment if necessary.

Altogether, the software is designed to speed up the time it takes for physicians to identify a pulmonary embolism, confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment, while also helping hospitals coordinate care and allot resources more efficiently.

“Building on our expertise in stroke, we’re confident this technology will help modernize PE care and meaningfully improve patient outcomes,” CEO Karim Karti said in a statement. “Our goal is to build solutions that address the specific challenges associated with treating various conditions, as well as the communication and workflow issues faced by hospitals globally.”

The FDA nods for RapidAI’s tools to detect pulmonary embolism and large vessel occlusion join a pair of other regulatory clearances the company received for AI-powered software to help physicians better interpret CT scans.

The more recent of these came in 2020 for a machine learning algorithm that can analyze non-contrast brain CT scans and pinpoint early signs of ischemic stroke.

Prior to that, in 2018—back when RapidAI was still known as iSchemaView—the FDA green-lit a program that adds color-coded overlays to CT angiography scans and generates 3D images of the brain’s blood vessels. The aim is to make it easier for physicians to spot areas of the brain with reduced blood flow.