Artificial Intelligence: AI Identifies Covid’s Tell-Tale Traces From Lung Ultrasounds

March 23, 2021 | Artificial Intelligence, News
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The system was 100% accurate in distinguishing COVID-19 lungs from non-coronavirus pneumonia.

Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute, London, have developed an AI-based computer system to pinpoint distinctive COVID-19 markers in the ultrasound scans of lungs of virus-afflicted patients. These hidden traces are indistinguishable even to highly trained and experienced medical personnel. (The London Free Press)

The scientists trained an AI model on a dataset of lung ultrasounds from 243 patients, including 612 video loops and nearly 121,400 frames.

Accuracy test

The scientists tested their new tool on a mix of lung ultrasounds of both COVID and non-COVID patients to verify whether it could tell them apart.

According to Robert Arntfield, a Lawson researcher and medical director of London Health Sciences Centre’s critical care trauma center, the system was able to identify the COVID scans with perfect accuracy.

This is a significant achievement given that the ultrasounds of both categories look highly similar, even to specialists.

In fact, when 61 doctors were shown 25 ultrasound clips of patients with COVID-19 and non-coronavirus lung conditions, the results were mixed (“no better than a coin toss”), but again, the computer could accurately pick one from the other.

COVID-19’s “QR Code”

Dr. Robert Arntfield, Lawson Researcher and Medical Director of the Critical Care Trauma Centre at LHSC said: “The neural network was able to identify the unique characteristics among different scans, and exceed human-level diagnostic specificity. Our study of over 100,000 ultrasound images showed that while trained physicians could, as expected, not distinguish between different causes of lung disease, the AI had nearly perfect accuracy in making the diagnosis.  It’s almost like the AI sees a QR code that we cannot see, unique to the disease.”

Project Deep Breathe

The results from the AI experiment have encouraged the Lawson Health Research Institute to green light Dr. Arntfield’s “Project Deep Breathe” project.

The project will venture beyond COVID-19 and get the AI tool to analyze other, multiple conditions using lung ultrasounds.

Related Story:  AI Detects COVID From Cellphone Recorded Coughs

Image Credit: Lawson Health Research Institute

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