Smart stethoscope - a startup project from the accelerator of ITMO University

    The Laeneco team has developed a smart stethoscope that detects lung disease with greater accuracy than doctors. Next is about the components of the device and its capabilities. Photo © Laeneco

    Difficulties associated with the treatment of lung diseases

    According to the World Health Organization, respiratory diseases account for 10% of the period of incapable years . And this is one of the most common reasons for people going to clinics (after cardiovascular diseases).

    The most common method for detecting lung disease is auscultation. It consists in listening to sounds caused by the activity of internal organs. Auscultation has been known since 1816. The first to put it into practice was the French physician and anatomist Rene Laennec . He is the inventor of a stethoscope and the author of scientific work with a description of the main auscultatory phenomena - noises, wheezing, crepitus .

    In the 21st century, doctors have at their disposal ultrasound machines that allow not only hearing but also seeing internal organs. Despite this, the method of auscultation is still one of the main medical instruments. For example, the importance of auscultation in medical practice is emphasized by Valentin Fuster, MD. In his study, he cited six cases (all of which occurred within 48 hours), when a diagnosis with a stethoscope helped to make an accurate diagnosis, which is not obvious in the pictures.

    But still, the method has its drawbacks. In particular, doctors have no means of objectively monitoring the results of an auscultatory study. The sounds that the doctor hears are not recorded anywhere, and the quality of the assessment depends solely on his experience. According to various estimates, the accuracy with which a doctor is able to detect pathology is approximately 67%.

    The engineers from Laeneco , a startup that went through the acceleration program of ITMO University, took up the solution to these problems . They developed a smart stethoscope that uses machine learning algorithms to detect lung diseases through audio recordings.

    Opportunities and prospects of the solution

    The electronic stethoscope has a sensitive microphone that picks up a wider frequency range than the human ear. At the same time, doctors are able to increase the volume of audible noise. This is important when working with full patients, as the sound penetrates worse through the thick tissue of a person. Plus, the function is relevant for paramedics at an age in whom hearing acuity is not the same as in youth.

    To identify sounds that indicate the presence of the disease, deep neural networks help. Now the accuracy of their work is 83%, but in theory this figure can be increased to 98%. The startup team is already collecting new data to expand the training set.

    Photo: Pixino / PD

    A smart stethoscope is paired with a smartphone. The application gives users recommendations regarding diagnostics, saves and processes records, and displays measurement results. Thanks to this device, people without medical education can use it.

    The Laeneco team is convinced that a smart stethoscope will help reduce the likelihood of chronic lung diseases, and plans to expand the capabilities of the instrument. One of the main tasks is to develop functionality for detecting cardiac pathologies.

    About Laeneco

    The Laeneco team consists of three people: Eugene Putin, Sergey Chukhontsev and Ilya Skorobogatov.

    Eugene works as a software engineer at the Computer Technologies Laboratory of ITMO University and leads the Kaggle Club club to solve the practical problems of machine learning. He is also the author of , a resource that can predict a patient’s age for a blood test.

    The second member of the team - Sergey - graduated from the Institute of Law at Udmurt State University and is one of the authors of the concept of a network plant. It is designed to manage many independent industries.

    As for Ilya, he is a graduate of ITMO University with a degree in Information Technology and Programming, who has long been involved in automation of production and workflow. The idea to create a smart stethoscope came precisely to him when he was developing a sensor for analyzing sounds made by machine tools.

    In 2017, the Laeneco team went through the acceleration program Future Technologies ITMO . The participants formed a business model and developed the MVP of a smart stethoscope. The system was presented at the start-up festival * SHIP-2017 in Finland and the St. Petersburg Forum SPIEF'18. Also in 2018, the project became the winner of the pitch session “ Japan is a country of upward startups.””, Organized by the Technopark of ITMO University together with experts from Asia. Then Laeneco received an offer to bring its product to the Japanese market.

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