Improved Chest X-ray or Chest CT Scans for COVID-19 Screening

University of Graz Background
Chest CT diagnosis can precede positivity on reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction testing for COVID-19 (RT-PCR). Early reports revealed low sensitivity of RT-PCR, ranging from 42% to 71%, and an initially negative RT-PCR may convert in a patient with COVID-19 4 days later. In contrast, the positive and negative predictive value of chest CT for COVID-19 are estimated at 92% and 42%, respectively. Therefore, CT diagnosis becomes a key technology in Corona diagnosis.
Technology Overview
The technology provides a new and outstanding method for the enhancement of the quality of moderately underexposed X-ray images. Inspired by the spatial integration of visual information in nocturnal insects, this bionic algorithm successfully enhances image contrast and brightness and removes noise while preserving fine details and object contours. All parameters for the image enhancement algorithm can be derived from global image statistics such i.e. mean gray value and its variance.
There are many methods available for contrast enhancement and noise reduction of X-ray image data. This novel image enhancement algorithm performs a few image operations to improve the contrast of lung tissue and operates at the pixel level to remove quantum noise. By means of this image processing method X-ray dose can be reduced by about 20%, which lowers the risks for patients scanned for COVID-19 infections.
Further Details
Ai T, Yang Z, Hou H, Zhan C, Chen C, Lv W, Tao Q, Sun Z, Xia L. Correlation of Chest CT and RT-PCR Testing in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China: A Report of 1014 Cases. Radiology. 2020 Feb 26:200642. Doi: 10.1148/radiol.2020200642. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32101510.
Wen Z, Chi Y, Zhang L, Liu H, Du K, Li Z, Chen J, Cheng L, Wang D. Coronavirus Disease 2019: Initial Detection on Chest CT in a Retrospective Multicenter Study of 103 Chinese Subjects. RYCT-20-0092, in press
Ai T, Yang Z, Hou H, Zhan C, Chen C, Lv W, et al. Correlation of Chest CT and RT-PCR Testing in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China: A Report of 1014 Cases. Radiology. 2020:200642.
Kanne JP, Little BP, Chung JH, Elicker BM, Ketai LH. Essentials for Radiologists on COVID-19: An Update-Radiology Scientific Expert Panel. Radiology. 2020:200527.
Mossa-Basha M, Meltzer CC, Kim DC, Tuite MJ, Kolli KP, Tan BS. Radiology Department Preparedness for COVID-19: Radiology Scientific Expert Panel. Radiology. 2020:200988.
Fang Y, Zhang H, Xie J, Lin M, Ying L, Pang P, et al. Sensitivity of Chest CT for COVID-19: Comparison to RT-PCR. Radiology. 2020:200432.
Stage of development

Proof of concept to prototype

Benefits
The performance of this innovative image denoising algorithm is similar to common complex de-noising methods (BM3D, TV, MLS and ATVM) and this novel contrast enhancement was found to improve contrast to noise ratio (CNR) of a mammographic test phantom by about 65%.
Parallel implementation in FPGA chips and rather simple implementation in embedded systems to enhance processing speed.

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