This study aims to develop and test a new computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) scheme of chest X-ray images to detect coronavirus (COVID-19) infected pneumonia.
CAD scheme first applies two image preprocessing steps to remove the majority of diaphragm regions, process the original image using a histogram equalization algorithm, and a bilateral low-pass filter. Then, the original image and two filtered images are used to form a pseudo color image. This image is fed into three input channels of a transfer learning-based convolutional neural network (CNN) model to classify chest X-ray images into 3 classes of COVID-19 infected pneumonia, other community-acquired no-COVID-19 infected pneumonia, and normal (non-pneumonia) cases. To build and test the CNN model, a publicly available dataset involving 8474 chest X-ray images is used, which includes 415, 5179 and 2,880 cases in three classes, respectively. Dataset is randomly divided into 3 subsets namely, training, validation, and testing with respect to the same frequency of cases in each class to train and test the CNN model.
The CNN-based CAD scheme yields an overall accuracy of 94.5 % (2404/2544) with a 95 % confidence interval of [0.93,0.96] in classifying 3 classes. CAD also yields 98.4 % sensitivity (124/126) and 98.0 % specificity (2371/2418) in classifying cases with and without COVID-19 infection. However, without using two preprocessing steps, CAD yields a lower classification accuracy of 88.0 % (2239/2544).
This study demonstrates that adding two image preprocessing steps and generating a pseudo color image plays an important role in developing a deep learning CAD scheme of chest X-ray images to improve accuracy in detecting COVID-19 infected pneumonia.

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