AI Classification of Blood Cells Reaches Level of Human Experts

Technology Networks | November 13, 2019

Every day, millions of single blood cells are evaluated for disease diagnostics in medical laboratories and clinics. Most of this repetitive task is still done manually by trained cytologists who inspect cells in stained blood smears and classify them into roughly 15 different categories. This process suffers from classification variability and requires the presence and expertise of a trained cytologist. To improve evaluation efficiency, a team of researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München and the University Hospital, LMU Munich, trained a deep neuronal network with almost 20.000 single cell images to classify them. The team lead Dr. Carsten Marr and medical doctoral student Dr. Christian Matek from the Institute of Computational Biology at Helmholtz Zentrum München as well as Prof. Dr. med Karsten Spiekermann and Simone Schwarz from the Department of Medicine III, University Hospital, LMU Munich, used images which were extracted from blood smears of 100 patients suffering from the aggressive blood disease AML and 100 controls. The new AI-driven approach was then evaluated by comparing its performance with the accuracy of human experts. The result showed that the AI-driven solution is able to identify diagnostic blast cells at least as good as a trained cytologist expert.

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