Objectives There exists a wide gap in the availability of mechanical ventilator devices and their acute need in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. An initial triaging method that accurately identifies the need for mechanical ventilation in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 is needed. We aimed to investigate if a potentially deteriorating clinical course in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 can be detected using all X-ray images taken during hospitalisation.
Methods We exploited the well-established DenseNet121 deep learning architecture for this purpose on 663 X-ray images acquired from 528 hospitalised patients with COVID-19. Two Pulmonary and Critical Care experts blindly and independently evaluated the same X-ray images for the purpose of validation.
Results We found that our deep learning model predicted the need for mechanical ventilation with a high accuracy, sensitivity and specificity (90.06%, 86.34% and 84.38%, respectively). This prediction was done approximately 3 days ahead of the actual intubation event. Our model also outperformed two Pulmonary and Critical Care experts who evaluated the same X-ray images and provided an incremental accuracy of 7.24%–13.25%.
Conclusions Our deep learning model accurately predicted the need for mechanical ventilation early during hospitalisation of patients with COVID-19. Until effective preventive or treatment measures become widely available for patients with COVID-19, prognostic stratification as provided by our model is likely to be highly valuable.
- critical care
Data availability statement
Data and code are available from the author on reasonable request.
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