From community-acquired pneumonia to COVID-19: a deep learning-based method for quantitative analysis of COVID-19 on thick-section CT scans

Zhang Li, Zheng Zhong, Yang Li, Tianyu Zhang, Liangxin Gao, Dakai Jin, Yue Sun, Xianghua Ye, Li Yu, Zheyu Hu, Jing Xiao, Lingyun Huang*, Yuling Tang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

53 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective To develop a fully automated AI system to quantitatively assess the disease severity and disease progression of COVID-19 using thick-section chest CT images. Methods In this retrospective study, an AI system was developed to automatically segment and quantify the COVID-19-infected lung regions on thick-section chest CT images. Five hundred thirty-one CT scans from 204 COVID-19 patients were collected from one appointed COVID-19 hospital. The automatically segmented lung abnormalities were compared with manual segmentation of two experienced radiologists using the Dice coefficient on a randomly selected subset (30 CT scans). Two imaging biomarkers were automatically computed, i.e., the portion of infection (POI) and the average infection HU (iHU), to assess disease severity and disease progression. The assessments were compared with patient status of diagnosis reports and key phrases extracted from radiology reports using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and Cohen's kappa, respectively. Results The dice coefficient between the segmentation of the AI system and two experienced radiologists for the COVID-19-infected lung abnormalities was 0.74 +/- 0.28 and 0.76 +/- 0.29, respectively, which were close to the inter-observer agreement (0.79 +/- 0.25). The computed two imaging biomarkers can distinguish between the severe and non-severe stages with an AUC of 0.97 (pvalue <0.001).Very good agreement(kappa= 0.8220) between the AI system and the radiologists was achieved on evaluating the changes in infection volumes. Conclusions A deep learning-based AI system built on the thick-section CT imaging can accurately quantify the COVID-19-associated lung abnormalities and assess the disease severity and its progressions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6828-6837
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number12
Early online date18 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Deep learning
  • Disease progression
  • Artificial intelligence

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