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DRDO develops artificial intelligence algorithm to detect Covid-19 presence from chest X-rays

"It can be a very useful tool especially in smaller towns in our country owing to lack of easy access to CT scans."

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bangalore |
May 7, 2021 2:44:57 pm
A doctor checks an X-ray of a patient suffering from Covid (Photo: Representational/Reuters)

In a development expected to help diagnose Covid-19 in suspected patients faster, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) have created an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to help detect Covid-19 from chest X-rays.

According to its developers, the tool named Atman AI used for Chest X-ray screening has shown an accuracy rate of 96.73 per cent. Dr U K Singh, Director, CAIR, DRDO said the development of the diagnostic tool was part of DRDO’s effort to help clinicians and partners on the frontline to help rapidly diagnose and effectively treat COVID-19 patients.

“Given the limited testing facilities for coronavirus, there is a rush to develop AI tools for quick analysis using X-rays. The tool will help in automatically detecting radiological findings indicative of Covid-19 in seconds, enabling physicians and radiologists to more effectively triage the cases, especially in an emergency environment,” he explained.

The team behind the initiative further noted that triaging using X-ray was observed to be fast, cost-effective and efficient. “It can be a very useful tool especially in smaller towns in our country owing to lack of easy access to CT scans. This will also reduce the existing burden on radiologists and make CT machines which are being used for COVID be used for other diseases and illness owing to overload for CT scans,” the developers claimed.

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Developers added that chest X-Rays of RT-PCR positive patients were retrospectively analysed in various stages of disease involvement using AI models. “A deep learning application indigenously developed by CAIR-DRDO for COVID -19 screening using digital chest X-Rays was used to do so,” they explained.

Meanwhile, 5C Network, a digital network of radiologists in the country, has decided to use the tool in nearly 1000 hospitals in the country with the support of HCG Academics. “Utilising the algorithms for chest X-ray is an effective triaging tool which can be accessible to the common man in remotest districts of this country. This will have a significant impact on timely care and appropriate treatment.” Kalyan Sivasailam, CEO of 5C network said.

Meanwhile, Dr Vishal Rao, Dean Academics, Centre of Academic Research, HCG Cancer Hospital said the new tool would improve efficacy in hospitals “without increasing the financial burden for patients and healthcare systems.” He added that similar methods would also become useful in assessing predominant respiratory diseases.

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