If you’re itching somewhere, besides continuing to itch that place (against the advice of anyone near you obviously), you might also naturally start to wonder the cause behind the itch. If you get a rash, that inquisition intensifies. ‘Was it a mosquito? Or another insect? Or an allergy?’ If this is what you thought, then you just did a self-diagnosis on you – no matter how unreliable it was, of course. The process of trying to identify the cause behind a certain state is known as diagnosis; in the field of medicine, this becomes a very important procedure on which most other procedures rest upon.
Medical diagnoses are certainly not as unreliable as the aforementioned self-diagnosis you might have done, but nonetheless, they are also done by human beings just like us. As such, while relatively lower, the possibility of an erroneous conclusion or hypothesis exists. The giant leaps of technology have been extremely helpful to reduce this margin of error by a great extent. Nowadays, a number of machines such as this scanner and that scanner exist to help the doctor in pinpointing the exact disorder behind certain symptoms.
CADe (Computer Assisted Detection/Computer Aided Detection) and CADx (Computer Assisted Diagnosis/ Computer Aided Diagnosis) are the main categories of the medical computer systems that are used to aid the medical diagnosis process. The former, CADe, is capable of detecting any abnormalities within a specific image (i.e. X-ray images, MRI images, ultrasound images), whereas the latter, CADx, is capable of assessing the status of the abnormalities. For example, CADe can detect a tumour in any organ or region of the body when provided with the appropriate images, whilst CADx can assess whether they are malignant or not, and so on.
CADe and CADx machines have been used in the field of medicine since the latter half of the past century, and have improved over the years together with the advancements in technology, no doubt. Nonetheless, it should be mentioned that these health diagnostic systems are not capable of performing a medical diagnosis on their own: they are not capable of replacing a doctor. What these machines are able to assist a doctor and to help them in their diagnoses – they can reduce the probability of the doctor’s diagnosis being wrong.
However, this does not extinguish all hope for computers to replace doctors! Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is currently still under development, will most definitely be capable of performing extremely accurate diagnoses – far more accurate than those of the humans – and using a lesser time and fewer testing methods. Of course, artificial intelligence won’t join the ranks of medicine until at least the next decade, but development is definitely under progress!