Stool form assessment relies on subjective patient reports using the Bristol Stool Scale (BSS). In a novel smartphone application (app), trained artificial intelligence (AI) characterizes digital images of users' stool. In this study, we evaluate this AI for accuracy in assessing stool characteristics.
Subjects with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome image-captured every stool for 2 weeks using the app, which assessed images for 5 visual characteristics (BSS, consistency, fragmentation, edge fuzziness, and volume). In the validation phase, using 2 expert gastroenterologists as a gold standard, sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and diagnostic odds ratios of subject-reported vs AI-graded BSS scores were compared. In the implementation phase, agreements between AI-graded and subject-reported daily average BSS scores were determined, and subject BSS and AI stool characteristics scores were correlated with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome symptom severity scores.
In the validation phase (n = 14), there was good agreement between the 2 experts and AI characterizations for BSS (intraclass correlation coefficients [ICC] = 0.782–0.852), stool consistency (ICC = 0.873–0.890), edge fuzziness (ICC = 0.836–0.839), fragmentation (ICC = 0.837–0.863), and volume (ICC = 0.725–0.851). AI outperformed subjects' self-reports in categorizing daily average BSS scores as constipation, normal, or diarrhea. In the implementation phase (n = 25), the agreement between AI and self-reported BSS scores was moderate (ICC = 0.61). AI stool characterization also correlated better than subject reports with diarrhea severity scores.
A novel smartphone application can determine BSS and other visual stool characteristics with high accuracy compared with the 2 expert gastroenterologists. Moreover, trained AI was superior to subject self-reporting of BSS. AI assessments could provide more objective outcome measures for stool characterization in gastroenterology.