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In IEEE access : practical innovations, open solutions

COVID-19 is an emerging disease with transmissibility and severity. So far, there are no effective therapeutic drugs or vaccines for COVID-19. The most serious complication of COVID-19 is a type of pneumonia called 2019 novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia (NCIP) with about 4.3% mortality rate. Comparing to chest Digital Radiography (DR), it is recently reported that chest Computed Tomography (CT) is more useful to serve as the early screening and diagnosis tool for NCIP. In this study, aimed to help physicians make the diagnostic decision, we develop a machine learning (ML) approach for automated diagnosis of NCIP on chest CT. Different from most ML approaches which often require training on thousands or millions of samples, we design a few-shot learning approach, in which we combine few-shot learning with weakly supervised model training, for computerized NCIP diagnosis. A total of 824 patients are retrospectively collected from two Hospitals with IRB approval. We first use 9 patients with clinically confirmed NCIP and 20 patients without known lung diseases for training a location detector which is a multitask deep convolutional neural network (DCNN) designed to output a probability of NCIP and the segmentation of targeted lesion area. An experienced radiologist manually localizes the potential locations of NCIPs on chest CTs of 9 COVID-19 patients and interactively segments the area of the NCIP lesions as the reference standard. Then, the multitask DCNN is furtherly fine-tuned by a weakly supervised learning scheme with 291 case-level labeled samples without lesion labels. A test set of 293 patients is independently collected for evaluation. With our NCIP-Net, the test AUC is 0.91. Our system has potential to serve as the NCIP screening and diagnosis tools for the fight of COVID-19's endemic and pandemic.

Lai Yaoming, Li Guangming, Wu Dongmei, Lian Wanmin, Li Cheng, Tian Junzhang, Ma Xiaofen, Chen Hui, Xu Wen, Wei Jun, Zhang Yaqin, Jiang Guihua


2019 novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia, COVID-19, chest CT, few-shot learning