Deep learning-based lesion subtyping and prediction of clinical outcomes in COVID-19 pneumonia using chest CT

ABSTRACT

The main objective of this work is to develop and evaluate an artificial intelligence system based on deep learning capable of automatically identifying, quantifying, and characterizing COVID-19 pneumonia patterns in order to assess disease severity and predict clinical outcomes, and to compare the prediction performance with respect to human reader severity assessment and whole lung radiomics. We propose a deep learning based scheme to automatically segment the different lesion subtypes in nonenhanced CT scans. The automatic lesion quantification was used to predict clinical outcomes. The proposed technique has been independently tested in a multicentric cohort of 103 patients, retrospectively collected between March and July of 2020. Segmentation of lesion subtypes was evaluated using both overlapping (Dice) and distance-based (Hausdorff and average surface) metrics, while the proposed system to predict clinically relevant outcomes was assessed using the area under the curve (AUC). Additionally, other metrics including sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value were estimated. 95% confidence intervals were properly calculated. The agreement between the automatic estimate of parenchymal damage (%) and the radiologists’ severity scoring was strong, with a Spearman correlation coefficient (R) of 0.83. The automatic quantification of lesion subtypes was able to predict patient mortality, admission to the Intensive Care Units (ICU) and need for mechanical ventilation with an AUC of 0.87, 0.73 and 0.68 respectively. The proposed artificial intelligence system enabled a better prediction of those clinically relevant outcomes when compared to the radiologists’ interpretation and to whole lung radiomics. In conclusion, deep learning lesion subtyping in COVID-19 pneumonia from noncontrast chest CT enables quantitative assessment of disease severity and better prediction of clinical outcomes with respect to whole lung radiomics or radiologists’ severity score.