We describe a novel, two-stage computer assistance system for lung anomaly detection using ultrasound imaging in the intensive care setting to improve operator performance and patient stratification during coronavirus pandemics. The proposed system consists of two deep-learning-based models. A quality assessment module automates predictions of image quality, and a diagnosis assistance module determines the likelihood-of-anomaly in ultrasound images of sufficient quality. Our two-stage strategy uses a novelty detection algorithm to address the lack of control cases available for training a quality assessment classifier. The diagnosis assistance module can then be trained with data that are deemed of sufficient quality, guaranteed by the closed-loop feedback mechanism from the quality assessment module. Integrating the two modules yields accurate, fast, and practical acquisition guidance and diagnostic assistance for patients with suspected respiratory conditions at the point-of-care. Using more than 25,000 ultrasound images from 37 COVID-19-positive patients scanned at two hospitals, plus 12 control cases, this study demonstrates the feasibility of using the proposed machine learning approach. We report an accuracy of 86% when classifying between sufficient and insufficient quality images by the quality assessment module. For data of sufficient quality, the mean classification accuracy in detecting COVID-19-positive cases was 95% on five holdout test data sets, unseen during the training of any networks within the proposed system.
Machine learning problems involving sparse datasets may benefit from the use of convolutional neural networks if the numbers of samples and features are very large. Such datasets are increasingly more frequently encountered in a variety of different domains. We convert such datasets to imagesets while attempting to give each image structure that is amenable for use with convolutional neural networks. Experimental results on two publicly available, sparse datasets show that the approach can boost classification performance compared to other methods, which may be attributed to the formation of visually distinguishable shapes on the resultant images.