AI image analysis helps diagnose COVID-19

Wednesday, 01 July, 2020

AI image analysis helps diagnose COVID-19

Researchers from Monash University, Sun Yat-sen University and The First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University have developed an advanced medical report generation method using artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which has been shown to accurately read lung CT images and help diagnose COVID-19 cases. Their findings have been submitted to the 34th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS 2020), to be held virtually in December.

In addition to RT-PCR tests, lung CT scan analysis is another essential testing method for COVID-19. A key step in controlling COVID-19 is to quickly identify positive cases and treat patients appropriately — and as the number of confirmed cases continues to outweigh the number of experienced medical personnel needed to diagnose lung CT scans, an automated report generation tool would allow for more accurate and timely COVID-19 diagnoses.

Image captioning is a form of AI technology that summarises visual information, such as images or videos, in an automatically generated description. This complex task requires the AI model to bridge visual and linguistic information to deliver accurate analyses. In medical report generation, the AI model requires an increased capacity to understand the medical domain and describe medical images in a coherent way, covering appropriate terminologies.

“Our research has formulated the first public COVID-19 CT report dataset, and proposed a novel deep learning model which demonstrates how an AI-generated method is capable of producing accurate and robust medical reports,” said Monash PhD student Mingjie Li.

Rather than simply notifying a patient that they may be diagnosed with COVID-19, a healthcare professional can use the AI-generated report to offer a complete picture of what the diagnosis might look like — taking into account additional factors such as fever, coughing or breathing difficulties, which are not identified in a medical image alone. The comprehensive report generated by this AI method enhances the credibility of the doctor’s diagnosis and provides patients with accurate information relating to their health.

“This research has wider clinical value as well as future applications across other diseases,” said Professor Anyuan Li, a radiologist from The First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University. “While an AI-generated medical report will never eliminate the work of a healthcare professional, it can act as an effective tool to reduce the pressure experienced by doctors during COVID-19.”

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