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In Revista panamericana de salud publica = Pan American journal of public health

Objective : Study the feasibility of using artificial intelligence as a sensitive and specific method for COVID-19 screening in patients with respiratory conditions, using chest CT scan images and a telemedicine platform.

Methods : From March 2020 to June 2021, the authors conducted an observational descriptive multicenter feasibility study based on artificial intelligence (AI) for COVID-19 screening using chest images of patients with respiratory conditions who presented at public hospitals. The AI platform was used to diagnose chest CT scan images; this was then compared with molecular diagnosis (RT-PCR) to determine whether they matched and to analyze the feasibility of AI for screening patients with suspected COVID-19. A telemedicine platform was used to send images and diagnostic results.

Results : Screening of 3 514 patients with a suspected COVID-19 diagnosis was performed in 14 hospitals around the country. Most patients were aged 27 to 59 years, followed by those over 60. The average age was 48.6 years; 52.8% were male. The most frequent findings were severe pneumonia, bilateral pneumonia with pleural effusion, bilateral pulmonary emphysema, and diffuse ground glass opacity, among others. There was an average of 93% matching and 7% mismatching between images analyzed by AI and RT-PCR. Sensitivity and specificity of the AI system, obtained by comparing AI and RT-PCR screening results, were 93% and 80% respectively.

Conclusions : The use of sensitive and specific AI for stratified rapid detection of COVID-19 in patients with respiratory conditions by using chest CT scan images and a telemedicine platform in public hospitals in Paraguay is feasible.

Galván Pedro, Fusillo José, González Felipe, Vukujevic Oraldo, Recalde Luciano, Rivas Ronald, Ortellado José, Portillo Juan, Borba Julio, Hilario Enrique


COVID-19, Paraguay, Screening, artificial intelligence, digital technology, telediagnostics, telemedicine