Development and external validation of a mixed-effects deep learning model to diagnose COVID-19 from CT imaging

Front Med (Lausanne). 2023 Aug 23;10:1113030. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2023.1113030. eCollection 2023.


BACKGROUND: The automatic analysis of medical images has the potential improve diagnostic accuracy while reducing the strain on clinicians. Current methods analyzing 3D-like imaging data, such as computerized tomography imaging, often treat each image slice as individual slices. This may not be able to appropriately model the relationship between slices.

METHODS: Our proposed method utilizes a mixed-effects model within the deep learning framework to model the relationship between slices. We externally validated this method on a data set taken from a different country and compared our results against other proposed methods. We evaluated the discrimination, calibration, and clinical usefulness of our model using a range of measures. Finally, we carried out a sensitivity analysis to demonstrate our methods robustness to noise and missing data.

RESULTS: In the external geographic validation set our model showed excellent performance with an AUROC of 0.930 (95%CI: 0.914, 0.947), with a sensitivity and specificity, PPV, and NPV of 0.778 (0.720, 0.828), 0.882 (0.853, 0.908), 0.744 (0.686, 0.797), and 0.900 (0.872, 0.924) at the 0.5 probability cut-off point. Our model also maintained good calibration in the external validation dataset, while other methods showed poor calibration.

CONCLUSION: Deep learning can reduce stress on healthcare systems by automatically screening CT imaging for COVID-19. Our method showed improved generalizability in external validation compared to previous published methods. However, deep learning models must be robustly assessed using various performance measures and externally validated in each setting. In addition, best practice guidelines for developing and reporting predictive models are vital for the safe adoption of such models.

PMID:37680621 | PMC:PMC10481527 | DOI:10.3389/fmed.2023.1113030


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