Fast and Accurate Detection of COVID-19 Along With 14 Other Chest Pathologies Using a Multi-Level Classification: Algorithm Development and Validation Study02/2021
Background: COVID-19 has spread very rapidly, and it is important to build a system that can detect it in order to help an overwhelmed health care system. Many research studies on chest diseases rely on the strengths of deep learning techniques. Although some of these studies used state-of-the-art techniques and were able to deliver promising results, these techniques are not very useful if they can detect only one type of disease without detecting the others.
Objective: The main objective of this study was to achieve a fast and more accurate diagnosis of COVID-19. This study proposes a diagnostic technique that classifies COVID-19 x-ray images from normal x-ray images and those specific to 14 other chest diseases.
Methods: In this paper, we propose a novel, multilevel pipeline, based on deep learning models, to detect COVID-19 along with other chest diseases based on x-ray images. This pipeline reduces the burden of a single network to classify a large number of classes. The deep learning models used in this study were pretrained on the ImageNet dataset, and transfer learning was used for fast training. The lungs and heart were segmented from the whole x-ray images and passed onto the first classifier that checks whether the x-ray is normal, COVID-19 affected, or characteristic of another chest disease. If it is neither a COVID-19 x-ray image nor a normal one, then the second classifier comes into action and classifies the image as one of the other 14 diseases.
Results: We show how our model uses state-of-the-art deep neural networks to achieve classification accuracy for COVID-19 along with 14 other chest diseases and normal cases based on x-ray images, which is competitive with currently used state-of-the-art models. Due to the lack of data in some classes such as COVID-19, we applied 10-fold cross-validation through the ResNet50 model. Our classification technique thus achieved an average training accuracy of 96.04% and test accuracy of 92.52% for the first level of classification (ie, 3 classes). For the second level of classification (ie, 14 classes), our technique achieved a maximum training accuracy of 88.52% and test accuracy of 66.634% by using ResNet50. We also found that when all the 16 classes were classified at once, the overall accuracy for COVID-19 detection decreased, which in the case of ResNet50 was 88.92% for training data and 71.905% for test data.
Conclusions: Our proposed pipeline can detect COVID-19 with a higher accuracy along with detecting 14 other chest diseases based on x-ray images. This is achieved by dividing the classification task into multiple steps rather than classifying them collectively.