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In Computers in biology and medicine

PURPOSE : Severe pharyngitis is frequently associated with inflammations caused by streptococcal pharyngitis, which can cause immune-mediated and post-infectious complications. The recent global pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) encourages the use of telemedicine for patients with respiratory symptoms. This study, therefore, purposes automated detection of severe pharyngitis using a deep learning framework with self-taken throat images.

METHODS : A dataset composed of two classes of 131 throat images with pharyngitis and 208 normal throat images was collected. Before the training classifier, we constructed a cycle consistency generative adversarial network (CycleGAN) to augment the training dataset. The ResNet50, Inception-v3, and MobileNet-v2 architectures were trained with transfer learning and validated using a randomly selected test dataset. The performance of the models was evaluated based on the accuracy and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC-AUC).

RESULTS : The CycleGAN-based synthetic images reflected the pragmatic characteristic features of pharyngitis. Using the synthetic throat images, the deep learning model demonstrated a significant improvement in the accuracy of the pharyngitis diagnosis. ResNet50 with GAN-based augmentation showed the best ROC-AUC of 0.988 for pharyngitis detection in the test dataset. In the 4-fold cross-validation using the ResNet50, the highest detection accuracy and ROC-AUC achieved were 95.3% and 0.992, respectively.

CONCLUSION : The deep learning model for smartphone-based pharyngitis screening allows fast identification of severe pharyngitis with a potential of the timely diagnosis of pharyngitis. In the recent pandemic of COVID-19, this framework will help patients with upper respiratory symptoms to improve convenience in diagnosis and reduce transmission.

Yoo Tae Keun, Choi Joon Yul, Jang Younil, Oh Ein, Ryu Ik Hee


Automated diagnosis, Deep learning, Pharyngitis, Smartphone, Telemedicine, Tonsillitis