Your research can change the world
More on impact ›


Front. Big Data | doi: 10.3389/fdata.2021.612561

Sonographic diagnosis of COVID-19: A review of image processing for lung ultrasound Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

  • 1Ontario Tech University, Canada
  • 2Marion Surgical, Canada

The sustained increase in new cases of COVID-19 across the world and potential for subsequent outbreaks call for new tools to assist health professionals with early diagnosis and patient monitoring. Growing evidence around the world is showing that lung ultrasound examination can detect manifestations of COVID-19 infection. Ultrasound imaging has several characteristics that make it ideally suited for routine use: small hand-held systems can be contained inside a protective sheath, making it easier to disinfect than X-ray or computed tomography equipment; lung ultrasound allows triage of patients in long term care homes, tents or other areas outside of the hospital where other imaging modalities are not available; and it can determine lung involvement during the early phases of the disease and monitor affected patients at bedside on a daily basis. However, some challenges still remain with routine use of lung ultrasound. Namely, current examination practices and image interpretation are quite challenging, especially for unspecialised personnel.
This paper reviews how lung ultrasound (LUS) imaging can be used for COVID-19 diagnosis and explores different image processing methods that have the potential to detect manifestations of COVID-19 in LUS images. Then, the paper reviews how general lung ultrasound examinations are performed before addressing how COVID-19 manifests itself in the images. This will provide the basis to study contemporary methods for both segmentation and classification of lung ultrasound images. The paper concludes with a discussion regarding practical considerations of lung ultrasound image processing use and draws parallels between different methods to allow researchers to decide which particular method may be best considering their needs. With the deficit of trained sonographers who are working to diagnose the thousands of people afflicted byCOVID-19, a partially or totally automated lung ultrasound detection and diagnosis tool would be a major asset to fight the pandemic at the front lines.

Keywords: COVID-19, Lung ultrasound, image processing, machine learning, diagnosis, segmentation, Classification

Received: 30 Sep 2020; Accepted: 14 Jan 2021.

Copyright: © 2021 McDermott, Lacki, Sainsbury, Henry, Filippov and Rossa. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Conor McDermott, Ontario Tech University, Oshawa, Canada,