Classification of COVID-19 in chest radiographs: assessing the impact of imaging parameters using clinical and simulated images

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As computer-aided diagnostics develop to address new challenges in medical imaging, including emerging diseases such as COVID-19, the initial development is hampered by availability of imaging data. Deep learning algorithms are particularly notorious for performance that tends to improve proportionally to the amount of available data. Simulated images, as available through advanced virtual trials, may present an alternative in data-constrained applications. We begin with our previously trained COVID-19 x-ray classification model (denoted as CVX) that leveraged additional training with existing pre-pandemic chest radiographs to improve classification performance in a set of COVID-19 chest radiographs. The CVX model achieves demonstrably better performance on clinical images compared to an equivalent model that applies standard transfer learning from ImageNet weights. The higher performing CVX model is then shown to generalize effectively to a set of simulated COVID-19 images, both quantitative comparisons of AUCs from clinical to simulated image sets, but also in a qualitative sense where saliency map patterns are consistent when compared between sets. We then stratify the classification results in simulated images to examine dependencies in imaging parameters when patient features are constant. Simulated images show promise in optimizing imaging parameters for accurate classification in data-constrained applications.






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Fricks, Rafael, Ehsan Abadi, Francesco Ria and Ehsan Samei (2021). Classification of COVID-19 in chest radiographs: assessing the impact of imaging parameters using clinical and simulated images. Medical Imaging 2021: Computer-Aided Diagnosis, 115970A. pp. 1–11. 10.1117/12.2582223 Retrieved from

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Ehsan Abadi

Assistant Professor in Radiology

Ehsan Abadi, PhD is an imaging scientist at Duke University. He serves as an Assistant Professor in the departments of Radiology and Electrical & Computer Engineering, a faculty member in the Medical Physics Graduate Program and Carl E. Ravin Advanced Imaging Laboratories, and a co-Lead in the Center for Virtual Imaging Trials. Ehsan’s research focuses on quantitative imaging and optimization, CT imaging, lung diseases, computational human modeling, and medical imaging simulation. He is actively involved in developing computational anthropomorphic models with various diseases such as COPD, and scanner-specific simulation platforms (e.g., DukeSim) for imaging systems. Currently, his work is centered on identifying and optimizing imaging systems to ensure accurate and precise quantifications of lung diseases.


Francesco Ria

Assistant Professor of Radiology

Dr. Francesco Ria is a medical physicist and he serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology. Francesco has an extensive expertise in the assessment of procedure performances in radiology. In particular, his research activities focus on the simultaneous evaluation of radiation dose and image quality in vivo in computed tomography providing a comprehensive evaluation of radiological exams. Moreover, Francesco is developing and investigating novel mathematical models that, uniquely in the radiology field, can incorporate a comprehensive and quantitative risk-to-benefit assessment of the procedures; he is continuing to apply his expertise towards the definition of new patient specific risk metrics, and in the assessment of image quality in vivo also using state-of-the-art imaging technology, such as photon counting computed tomography scanners, and machine learning reconstruction algorithms.

Dr. Ria is a member of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine task group 392 (Investigation and Quality Control of Automatic Exposure Control System in CT), of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine Public Education working group (WGATE), and of the Italian Association of Medical Physics task group Dose Monitoring in Diagnostic Imaging.

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