Human versus Artificial Intelligence-Based Echocardiographic Analysis as a Predictor of Outcomes: An Analysis from the World Alliance Societies of Echocardiography COVID Study

J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2022 Dec;35(12):1226-1237.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.echo.2022.07.004. Epub 2022 Jul 19.


Background: Transthoracic echocardiography is the leading cardiac imaging modality for patients admitted with COVID-19, a condition of high short-term mortality. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that artificial intelligence (AI)-based analysis of echocardiographic images could predict mortality more accurately than conventional analysis by a human expert.

Methods: Patients admitted to 13 hospitals for acute COVID-19 who underwent transthoracic echocardiography were included. Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and left ventricular longitudinal strain (LVLS) were obtained manually by multiple expert readers and by automated AI software. The ability of the manual and AI analyses to predict all-cause mortality was compared.

Results: In total, 870 patients were enrolled. The mortality rate was 27.4% after a mean follow-up period of 230 ± 115 days. AI analysis had lower variability than manual analysis for both LVEF (P = .003) and LVLS (P = .005). AI-derived LVEF and LVLS were predictors of mortality in univariable and multivariable regression analysis (odds ratio, 0.974 [95% CI, 0.956-0.991; P = .003] for LVEF; odds ratio, 1.060 [95% CI, 1.019-1.105; P = .004] for LVLS), but LVEF and LVLS obtained by manual analysis were not. Direct comparison of the predictive value of AI versus manual measurements of LVEF and LVLS showed that AI was significantly better (P = .005 and P = .003, respectively). In addition, AI-derived LVEF and LVLS had more significant and stronger correlations to other objective biomarkers of acute disease than manual reads.

Conclusions: AI-based analysis of LVEF and LVLS had similar feasibility as manual analysis, minimized variability, and consequently increased the statistical power to predict mortality. AI-based, but not manual, analyses were a significant predictor of in-hospital and follow-up mortality.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; COVID-19; Echocardiography; Left ventricular function; Machine learning; Outcomes prediction; WASE.

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Echocardiography / methods
  • Humans
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left*