New AI can detect Covid-19 on chest X-rays

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 30, 2020 Published on November 30, 2020

Physicians could use this system to quickly screen patients who are hospitalised for reasons other than Covid-19

Researchers have developed a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool to track coronavirus by examining X-ray images of the lungs, as per the study published in the journal Radiology.

The new tool is called DeepCovid-XR. It is a machine-learning algorithm that identified Covid-19 in X-rays about 10 times faster and more accurately.

The researchers believe that physicians could use the AI system in order to quickly screen patients who are admitted to hospitals for reasons other than Covid-19.

They noted that faster, earlier detection of the highly contagious virus could potentially help in preventing the further spread of Covid-19.

The authors of the study also mentioned that screening of every patient may help in early isolation who are not otherwise under Covid-19 scrutiny.

“We are not aiming to replace actual testing. X-rays are routine, safe, and inexpensive. It would take seconds for our system to screen a patient and determine if that patient needs to be isolated,” said study author Aggelos Katsaggelos from Northwestern University in the US.


For the study, the researchers used 17,002 chest X-ray images — the largest published clinical dataset of chest X-rays from the Covid-19 era used to train an AI system.

Of those images, 5,445 came from Covid-19-positive patients from sites across the Northwestern Memorial Healthcare System.

The team then tested DeepCovid-XR against five experienced cardiothoracic fellowship-trained radiologists on 300 random test images from Lake Forest Hospital.

Each radiologist took approximately two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours to examine this set of images, whereas the AI system took about 18 minutes.

The radiologists’ accuracy ranged from 76-81 per cent. DeepCovid-XR performed slightly better at 82 per cent accuracy.

Commenting further Katsaggelos said: “Radiologists are expensive and not always available. X-rays are inexpensive and already a common element of routine care. This could potentially save money and time — especially because timing is so critical when working with Covid-19.”

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Published on November 30, 2020
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