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Application of deep learning to identify COVID-19 infection in posteroanterior chest X-rays



Posteroanterior chest X-rays (CXRs) are recommended over computed tomography scans for COVID-19 diagnosis, as CXRs can be obtained with relatively low risk of facility contamination. The objective of this study was to assess seven configurations of six convolutional deep neural network architectures for classification of CXRs as COVID-19 positive or negative.


The primary dataset consisted of 294 COVID-19 positive and 294 COVID-19 negative CXRs, the latter comprising roughly equally many pneumonia, emphysema, fibrosis, and healthy images. We used six common convolutional neural network architectures, VGG16, DenseNet121, DenseNet201, MobileNet, NasNetMobile and InceptionV3. We studied six models (one for each architecture) which were pre-trained on a vast repository of generic (non-CXR) images, as well as a seventh, a DenseNet121 model which was pre-trained on a repository of CXR images. For each model, we replaced the output layers with custom fully connected layers for the task of binary classification of images as COVID-19 positive or negative. Performance metrics were calculated on a hold-out test set with CXRs from patients who were not included in the training/validation set.


When pre-trained on generic images, the VGG16, DenseNet121, DenseNet201, MobileNet, NasNetMobile, and InceptionV3 architectures respectively produced hold-out test set areas under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROCs) of 0.98, 0.95, 0.97, 0.95, 0.99, and 0.96 for the COVID-19 classification of CXRs. The X-ray pre-trained DenseNet121 model, in comparison, had a test set AUROC of 0.87.


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