Development and validation of bone-suppressed deep learning classification of COVID-19 presentation in chest radiographs

Ngo Fung Daniel Lam, Hongfei Sun, Liming Song, Dongrong Yang, Shaohua Zhi, Ge Ren, Pak Hei Chou, Shiu Bun Nelson Wan, Man Fung Esther Wong, King Kwong Chan, Hoi Ching Hailey Tsang, Feng Ming Kong, Yì Xiáng J. Wáng, Jing Qin, Lawrence Wing Chi Chan, Michael Ying, Jing Cai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a pandemic disease. Fast and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19 from chest radiography may enable more efficient allocation of scarce medical resources and hence improved patient outcomes. Deep learning classification of chest radiographs may be a plausible step towards this. We hypothesize that bone suppression of chest radiographs may improve the performance of deep learning classification of COVID-19 phenomena in chest radiographs. Methods: Two bone suppression methods (Gusarev et al. and Rajaraman et al.) were implemented. The Gusarev and Rajaraman methods were trained on 217 pairs of normal and bone-suppressed chest radiographs from the X-ray Bone Shadow Suppression dataset ( Two classifier methods with different network architectures were implemented. Binary classifier models were trained on the public RICORD-1c and RSNA Pneumonia Challenge datasets. An external test dataset was created retrospectively from a set of 320 COVID-19 positive patients from Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Hong Kong, China) and a set of 518 non-COVID-19 patients from Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital (Hong Kong, China), and used to evaluate the effect of bone suppression on classifier performance. Classification performance, quantified by sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value (NPV), accuracy and area under the receiver operating curve (AUC), for non-suppressed radiographs was compared to that for bone suppressed radiographs. Some of the pre-trained models used in this study are published at ( Results: Bone suppression of external test data was found to significantly (P<0.05) improve AUC for one classifier architecture [from 0.698 (non-suppressed) to 0.732 (Rajaraman-suppressed)]. For the other classifier architecture, suppression did not significantly (P>0.05) improve or worsen classifier performance. Conclusions: Rajaraman suppression significantly improved classification performance in one classification architecture, and did not significantly worsen classifier performance in the other classifier architecture. This research could be extended to explore the impact of bone suppression on classification of different lung pathologies, and the effect of other image enhancement techniques on classifier performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3917-3931
Number of pages15
JournalQuantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • bone suppression
  • chest radiography
  • Classification
  • coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • deep learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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