Next-Gen Medical Imaging with Quantum Sensing

February 16, 2023

Healthcare is among the many sectors being transformed by the combination of artificial intelligence and quantum (AQ) technology. Because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, it was one of the first areas SandboxAQ focused on when developing our quantum sensing solutions. In honor of American Heart Month, we’re sharing how AQ technology, and quantum sensing in particular, has the potential to revolutionize how heart conditions are detected and managed.

Over the last several decades, breakthrough technologies for visualizing human anatomy, such as MRIs, CAT scans, PET scans, etc., have saved countless lives. However, large numbers of people around the world still succumb to diseases and misdiagnoses that could have been prevented if faster, more accurate, accessible, and affordable medical imaging capabilities were available. 

Cardiovascular disease claims 19 million lives annually. In the U.S. alone, the cost of heart disease is about $229 billion each year, including health care services, medicines, and lost productivity. Chest pain is the top reason for emergency department visits in the U.S., totaling nearly eight million visits annually. 

SandboxAQ’s vision is to radically improve the confidence and speed of diagnoses as well as to improve patient care and outcomes by creating a next-generation AQ-powered imaging platform. We are currently testing our first prototype with a prominent research hospital in a feasibility study.

Quantum Sensing for Medical Imaging

Quantum sensing has the potential to significantly enhance the efficacy of medical diagnostic imaging at a lower cost than many of today’s most powerful imaging devices. Quantum sensors enable devices to detect even the slightest deviations in electric impulses and the magnetic fields surrounding the heart, brain, and other organs. When AI is paired with a quantum sensor to remove the surrounding environmental interference, these highly sensitive devices could deliver images with greater fidelity than ever before. AI is also used to interpret these high fidelity images to generate new insights and make predictions. The result has the potential for faster, more accurate medical diagnoses that could lead to better patient care and outcomes.

 Today, electrocardiogram (EKG) is one of the most common techniques to measure overall heart health. EKGs detect the electrical signals of a heartbeat, but the signal can get blurry when it travels through the body's tissues. SandboxAQ’s first prototype, on the other hand, is a magnetocardiography (MCG) device. MCGs use magnetic fields that aren't blocked by the body. Therefore, doctors can capture a better picture of the heart's electrical activity with each beat, which could help them spot any unusual patterns or signs of potential health issues.

The quantum sensing technology used in MCGs has the potential to deliver superior performance and more data than EKGs. MCGs could enhance patient care by filling the gap between low-cost, ubiquitous EKG or biomarker tests (i.e., blood tests to measure cardiac enzyme levels) and high-cost, limited access to PET or CAT scans. In rural or low-income communities, this minimizes travel to larger, more distant urban centers for more advanced diagnosis during a cardiac event, and decreases the financial burden of these expensive tests. MCGs are also non-invasive and non-contact, which is especially convenient for the clinical care team to monitor patient status.

SandboxAQ and the Future of MCGs

Current MCG devices are large, costly, and require specialized training to operate and interpret the results, limiting their adoption. Others, such as the SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device), are costly and require complicated cooling processes. Our MCG is designed to uniquely use AI-driven advanced signal processing to eliminate the effects of electromagnetic interference in a dynamic hospital environment. This produces many planned benefits, including a simplified, integrated user experience and lower cost resulting in wider adoption.

Beyond cardiology, quantum sensing is being explored to measure the magnetic fields surrounding other organs, such as the brain. Our vision is to develop similar devices to help doctors better measure the functioning and physiology of major organs for more accurate and faster diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions.

At SandboxAQ, we work with customers and partners including leading research hospitals, healthcare systems, and pharmaceutical companies to help them explore the benefits of the latest AQ technology. 

To learn more about how SandboxAQ’s quantum sensing solutions are advancing the world of healthcare, get in touch with us.

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