Research press release


Nature Communications

Healthcare: Diagnosing anaemia with a photo



今回、Wilbur Lamたちの研究グループは、爪の基部の画像から得られる色や技術的メタデータを解析して、血中ヘモグロビン濃度を算定するアルゴリズムを開発した。このアルゴリズムは、スマホアプリに組み込まれるため、スマホだけで機能し、他の機器を必要としない。100人の参加者による臨床評価では、このアプリが、血中ヘモグロビン濃度を、貧血を検出するために現在利用できる診断ツールに匹敵する高い感度と精度で推定できることが明らかになった。さらに、4人の参加者による臨床評価では、このアプリをモニタリングツールとして使用した場合の精度の高さが明らかになった。


A smartphone app for the detection of anaemia is presented in Nature Communications. The app detects anaemia by analysing photos of fingernail beds taken with a smartphone, and estimates haemoglobin levels. This approach could potentially lead to the replacement of blood-based laboratory tests, which are currently required to diagnose and monitor anaemia.

Anaemia affects over two billion people globally. Existing clinical approaches to measure haemoglobin levels require specialized equipment and represent trade-offs between invasiveness, accuracy, infrastructure requirements, and cost, all of which are problematic in rural and low-resource settings, where anaemia is most prevalent.

Wilbur Lam and colleagues developed an algorithm that calculates the concentration of haemoglobin in the blood by analysing colour and technical metadata from fingernail bed images. In this way, the algorithm, incorporated into a mobile app, can function without the need for any equipment other than the smartphone itself. In a clinical assessment involving 100 participants, the app estimated haemoglobin concentrations with high sensitivity and accuracy comparable to currently available diagnostic tools for the detection of anaemia. In a further assessment involving four participants the app showed high levels of accuracy when used as a monitoring tool.

The authors suggest the app may allow for screening of anaemia in regions lacking specialized equipment and trained personnel, and enable patients with the condition to monitor their haemoglobin levels remotely in less than a minute. Nevertheless, additional studies with a larger number of participants are needed to confirm the high level of diagnostic accuracy necessary to replace blood-based anaemia testing.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07262-2

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