Initial chest radiographs and artificial intelligence (AI) predict clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients - analysis of 697 Italian patients

  • 18 September 2020

Objective

To evaluate whether the initial chest X-ray (CXR) severity assessed by an AI system may have prognostic utility in patients with COVID-19.

Methods

This retrospective single-center study included adult patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) between February 25 and April 9, 2020, with SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed on real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Initial CXRs obtained on ED presentation were evaluated by a deep learning artificial intelligence (AI) system and compared with the Radiographic Assessment of Lung Edema (RALE) score, calculated by two experienced radiologists. Death and critical COVID-19 (admission to intensive care unit (ICU) or deaths occurring before ICU admission) were identified as clinical outcomes. Independent predictors of adverse outcomes were evaluated by multivariate analyses.

Results

Six hundred ninety-seven 697 patients were included in the study: 465 males (66.7%), median age of 62 years (IQR 52–75). Multivariate analyses adjusting for demographics and comorbidities showed that an AI system-based score ≥ 30 on the initial CXR was an independent predictor both for mortality (HR 2.60 (95% CI 1.69 − 3.99; p < 0.001)) and critical COVID-19 (HR 3.40 (95% CI 2.35–4.94; p < 0.001)). Other independent predictors were RALE score, older age, male sex, coronary artery disease, COPD, and neurodegenerative disease.

Conclusion

AI- and radiologist-assessed disease severity scores on CXRs obtained on ED presentation were independent and comparable predictors of adverse outcomes in patients with COVID-19.

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