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In IEEE journal of biomedical and health informatics

Chest computed tomography (CT) image data is necessary for early diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of Coronavirus Disease 2019(COVID-19). Artificial intelligence has been tried to help clinicians in improving the diagnostic accuracy and working efficiency of CT. Whereas, existing supervised approaches on CT image of COVID-19 pneumonia require voxel-based annotations for training, which take a lot of time and effort. This paper proposed a weakly-supervised method for COVID-19 lesion localization based on generative adversarial network (GAN) with image-level labels only. We first introduced a GAN-based framework to generate normal-looking CT slices from CT slices with COVID-19 lesions. We then developed a novel feature match strategy to improve the reality of generated images by guiding the generator to capture the complex texture of chest CT images. Finally, the localization map of lesions can be easily obtained by subtracting the output image from its corresponding input image. By adding a classifier branch to the GAN-based framework to classify localization maps, we can further develop a diagnosis system with improved classification accuracy. Three CT datasets from hospitals of Sao Paulo, Italian Society of Medical and Interventional Radiology, and China Medical University about COVID-19 were collected in this article for evaluation. Our weakly supervised learning method obtained AUC of 0.883, dice coefficient of 0.575, accuracy of 0.884, sensitivity of 0.647, specificity of 0.929, and F1-score of 0.640, which exceeded other widely used weakly supervised object localization methods by a significant margin. We also compared the proposed method with fully supervised learning methods in COVID-19 lesion segmentation task, the proposed weakly supervised method still leads to a competitive result with dice coefficient of 0.575. Furthermore, we also analyzed the association between illness severity and visual score, we found that the common severity cohort had the largest sample size as well as the highest visual score which suggests our method can help rapid diagnosis of COVID-19 patients, especially in massive common severity cohort. In conclusion, we proposed this novel method can serve as an accurate and efficient tool to alleviate the bottleneck of expert annotation cost and advance the progress of computer-aided COVID-19 diagnosis.

Yang Ziduo, Zhao Lu, Wu Shuyu, Chen Yu-Chian