Aside from protecting your pearly whites, here's more motivation to squeeze in that twice-a-year teeth cleaning: It could keep you from getting sick. A new study suggests that regular dental visits may protect against pneumonia by reducing levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth (ick). The study's findings--based on the health records of more than 26,000 people nationwide--suggest that people who never get dental checkups have a far greater risk of getting bacterial pneumonia than those who keep up with biannual visits. "There is a well-documented connection between oral health and pneumonia," said lead author Michelle Doll, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, in a press release. "We can never rid the mouth of bacteria altogether, but good oral hygiene can limit the quantities of bacteria present."
Automatic Chest Radiograph X-ray (CXR) interpretation by machines is an important research topic of Artificial Intelligence. As part of my journey through the California Science Fair, I have developed an algorithm that can detect pneumonia from a CXR image to compensate for human fallibility. My algorithm, PneumoXttention, is an ensemble of two 13 layer convolutional neural network trained on the RSNA dataset, a dataset provided by the Radiological Society of North America, containing 26,684 frontal X-ray images split into the categories of pneumonia and no pneumonia. The dataset was annotated by many professional radiologists in North America. It achieved an impressive F1 score, 0.82, on the test set (20% random split of RSNA dataset) and completely compensated Human Radiologists on a random set of 25 test images drawn from RSNA and NIH. I don't have a direct comparison but Stanford's Chexnet has a F1 score of 0.435 on the NIH dataset for category Pneumonia.
The COVID-19 is sweeping the world with deadly consequences. Its contagious nature and clinical similarity to other pneumonias make separating subjects contracted with COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 viral pneumonia a priority and a challenge. However, COVID-19 testing has been greatly limited by the availability and cost of existing methods, even in developed countries like the US. Intrigued by the wide availability of routine blood tests, we propose to leverage them for COVID-19 testing using the power of machine learning. Two proven-robust machine learning model families, random forests (RFs) and support vector machines (SVMs), are employed to tackle the challenge. Trained on blood data from 208 moderate COVID-19 subjects and 86 subjects with non-COVID-19 moderate viral pneumonia, the best result is obtained in an SVM-based classifier with an accuracy of 84%, a sensitivity of 88%, a specificity of 80%, and a precision of 92%. The results are found explainable from both machine learning and medical perspectives. A privacy-protected web portal is set up to help medical personnel in their practice and the trained models are released for developers to further build other applications. We hope our results can help the world fight this pandemic and welcome clinical verification of our approach on larger populations.