AI can identify COVID-19 in lungs like physicians can, study shows

An algorithm can identify COVID-19 cases and differentiate them from influenza cases with the same accuracy as a physician’s diagnosis, according to a study recently published in Nature Communications.

The research team trained an artificial intelligence algorithm to detect COVID-19 in lung scans of 1,280 patients from Japan, China and Italy. They tested it on 1,337 patients with lung diseases spanning from COVID-19 to pneumonia and cancer.

The algorithm was able to accurately diagnose 84 percent of positive COVID-19 cases and 93 percent of negative cases.

The study was conducted to explore alternatives to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction tests, which are often used to diagnose COVID-19. These tests often undergo delays during processing and have a high risk of producing false negatives.

“We demonstrated that a deep learning-based AI approach can serve as a standardized and objective tool to assist healthcare systems as well as patients,” Ulas Bagci, PhD, one of the study’s researchers, said in a Sept. 30 news release. “It can be used as a complementary test tool in very specific limited populations, and it can be used rapidly and at large scale in the unfortunate event of a recurrent outbreak.”

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