Vidur Mahajan

Vasanth Venugopal

By VASANTH VENUGOPAL MD and VIDUR MAHAJAN MBBS, MBA

What can Artificial
Intelligence (AI) do?

AI can,
simply put, do two things – one, it can do what humans can do. These are tasks
like looking at CCTV cameras, detecting faces of people, or in this case, read
CT scans and identify ‘findings’ of pneumonia that radiologists can otherwise
also find – just that this happens automatically and fast. Two, AI can do
things that humans can’t do – like telling you the exact time it would take you
to go from point A to point B (i.e. Google maps), or like in this case,
diagnose COVID-19 pneumonia on a CT scan.

Pneumonia
on CT scans?

Pneumonia,
an infection of the lungs, is a killer disease. According to WHO statistics from
2015, Community Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) is the deadliest communicable disease
and third leading cause of mortality worldwide leading to 3.2 million deaths
every year.

Pneumonias can
be classified in many ways, including the type of infectious agent (etiology),
source of infection and pattern of lung involvement. From an etiological classification
perspective, the most common causative agents of pneumonia are bacteria
(typical like Pneumococcus, H.Influenza and atypical like Legionella,
Mycoplasma), viral (Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Parainfluenza, and
adenoviruses) and fungi (Histoplasma & Pneumocystis Carinii).

Can
radiologists find the infectious agent for pneumonia?

While lab
tests like sputum microscopy and culture, rapid antigen tests and gene
amplification tests are the cornerstone for the identification of causative
organisms in pneumonia, there have been attempts to do this differentiation
based on CT scans of the chest. The commonly referred to “typical” bacterial
pneumonias are known to present with findings such as classic lobar
consolidation, air bronchograms, centrilobular nodules and in some cases,
pleural effusions. There is a great degree of overlap between findings of the
less common “atypical” pneumonias including Mycoplasma pneumonia, Legionella
pneumonia and the plethora of viral pneumonias. The findings can include one or
more of the following:  bronchopneumonia
pattern with centrilobular nodules, bronchial

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