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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

2022

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