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Machine learning for COVID-19 detection and prognostication using chest radiographs and CT scans: a systematic methodological review

by   Michael Roberts, et al.

Background: Machine learning methods offer great potential for fast and accurate detection and prognostication of COVID-19 from standard-of-care chest radiographs (CXR) and computed tomography (CT) images. In this systematic review we critically evaluate the machine learning methodologies employed in the rapidly growing literature. Methods: In this systematic review we reviewed EMBASE via OVID, MEDLINE via PubMed, bioRxiv, medRxiv and arXiv for published papers and preprints uploaded from Jan 1, 2020 to June 24, 2020. Studies which consider machine learning models for the diagnosis or prognosis of COVID-19 from CXR or CT images were included. A methodology quality review of each paper was performed against established benchmarks to ensure the review focusses only on high-quality reproducible papers. This study is registered with PROSPERO [CRD42020188887]. Interpretation: Our review finds that none of the developed models discussed are of potential clinical use due to methodological flaws and underlying biases. This is a major weakness, given the urgency with which validated COVID-19 models are needed. Typically, we find that the documentation of a model's development is not sufficient to make the results reproducible and therefore of 168 candidate papers only 29 are deemed to be reproducible and subsequently considered in this review. We therefore encourage authors to use established machine learning checklists to ensure sufficient documentation is made available, and to follow the PROBAST (prediction model risk of bias assessment tool) framework to determine the underlying biases in their model development process and to mitigate these where possible. This is key to safe clinical implementation which is urgently needed.


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