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Severity Assessment and Progression Prediction of COVID-19 Patients based on the LesionEncoder Framework and Chest CT

By Youzhen Feng, Sidong Liu, Zhongyuan Cheng, Juan Quiroz, Data Rezazadegan, Pingkang Chen, Qiting Lin, Long Qian, Xiaofang Liu, Shlomo Berkovsky, Enrico Coiera, Lei Song, Xiaoming Qiu, Xiangran Cai

Posted 04 Aug 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.03.20167007

Automatic severity assessment and progression prediction can facilitate admission, triage, and referral of COVID-19 patients. This study aims to explore the potential use of lung lesion features in the management of COVID-19, based on the assumption that lesion features may carry important diagnostic and prognostic information for quantifying infection severity and forecasting disease progression. A novel LesionEncoder framework is proposed to detect lesions in chest CT scans and to encode lesion features for automatic severity assessment and progression prediction. The LesionEncoder framework consists of a U-Net module for detecting lesions and extracting features from individual CT slices, and a recurrent neural network (RNN) module for learning the relationship between feature vectors and collectively classifying the sequence of feature vectors. Chest CT scans of two cohorts of COVID-19 patients from two hospitals in China were used for training and testing the proposed framework. When applied to assessing severity, this framework outperformed baseline methods achieving a sensitivity of 0.818, specificity of 0.952, accuracy of 0.940, and AUC of 0.903. It also outperformed the other tested methods in disease progression prediction with a sensitivity of 0.667, specificity of 0.838, accuracy of 0.829, and AUC of 0.736. The LesionEncoder framework demonstrates a strong potential for clinical application in current COVID-19 management, particularly in automatic severity assessment of COVID-19 patients. This framework also has a potential for other lesion-focused medical image analyses. [Manuscript last updated on 20 May, 2020.]

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