Determination of the Severity and Percentage of COVID-19 Infection through a Hierarchical Deep Learning System

J Pers Med. 2022 Mar 28;12(4):535. doi: 10.3390/jpm12040535.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused millions of deaths and one of the greatest health crises of all time. In this disease, one of the most important aspects is the early detection of the infection to avoid the spread. In addition to this, it is essential to know how the disease progresses in patients, to improve patient care. This contribution presents a novel method based on a hierarchical intelligent system, that analyzes the application of deep learning models to detect and classify patients with COVID-19 using both X-ray and chest computed tomography (CT). The methodology was divided into three phases, the first being the detection of whether or not a patient suffers from COVID-19, the second step being the evaluation of the percentage of infection of this disease and the final phase is to classify the patients according to their severity. Stratification of patients suffering from COVID-19 according to their severity using automatic systems based on machine learning on medical images (especially X-ray and CT of the lungs) provides a powerful tool to help medical experts in decision making. In this article, a new contribution is made to a stratification system with three severity levels (mild, moderate and severe) using a novel histogram database (which defines how the infection is in the different CT slices for a patient suffering from COVID-19). The first two phases use CNN Densenet-161 pre-trained models, and the last uses SVM with LDA supervised learning algorithms as classification models. The initial stage detects the presence of COVID-19 through X-ray multi-class (COVID-19 vs. No-Findings vs. Pneumonia) and the results obtained for accuracy, precision, recall, and F1-score values are 88%, 91%, 87%, and 89%, respectively. The following stage manifested the percentage of COVID-19 infection in the slices of the CT-scans for a patient and the results in the metrics evaluation are 0.95 in Pearson Correlation coefficient, 5.14 in MAE and 8.47 in RMSE. The last stage finally classifies a patient in three degrees of severity as a function of global infection of the lungs and the results achieved are 95% accurate.

Keywords: COVID-19; deep learning; hierarchical intelligent system; support vector machine.