COVID-19 Detection from Respiratory Sounds with Hierarchical Spectrogram Transformers

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Monitoring of prevalent airborne diseases such as COVID-19 characteristically involve respiratory assessments. While auscultation is a mainstream method for symptomatic monitoring, its diagnostic utility is hampered by the need for dedicated hospital visits. Continual remote monitoring based on recordings of respiratory sounds on portable devices is a promising alternative, which can assist in screening of COVID-19. In this study, we introduce a novel deep learning approach to distinguish patients with COVID-19 from healthy controls given audio recordings of cough or breathing sounds. The proposed approach leverages a novel hierarchical spectrogram transformer (HST) on spectrogram representations of respiratory sounds. HST embodies self-attention mechanisms over local windows in spectrograms, and window size is progressively grown over model stages to capture local to global context. HST is compared against state-of-the-art conventional and deep-learning baselines. Comprehensive demonstrations on a multi-national dataset indicate that HST outperforms competing methods, achieving over 97% area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) in detecting COVID-19 cases.

under review, IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Onat Dalmaz
Onat Dalmaz
Ph.D. Student in Electrical Engineering

The focal point of my research is the synergistic combination of machine learning and medical imaging.