This study aims to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-based model to assist radiologists in pneumoconiosis screening and staging using chest radiographs. The model, based on chest radiographs, was developed using a training cohort and validated using an independent test cohort. Every image in the training and test datasets were labeled by experienced radiologists in a double-blinded fashion. The computational model started by segmenting the lung field into six subregions. Then, convolutional neural network classification model was used to predict the opacity level for each subregion respectively. Finally, the diagnosis for each subject (normal, stage I, II, or III pneumoconiosis) was determined by summarizing the subregion-based prediction results. For the independent test cohort, pneumoconiosis screening accuracy was 0.973, with both sensitivity and specificity greater than 0.97. The accuracy for pneumoconiosis staging was 0.927, better than that achieved by two groups of radiologists (0.87 and 0.84, respectively). This study develops a deep learning-based model for screening and staging of pneumoconiosis using man-annotated chest radiographs. The model outperformed two groups of radiologists in the accuracy of pneumoconiosis staging. This pioneer work demonstrates the feasibility and efficiency of AI-assisted radiography screening and diagnosis in occupational lung diseases.
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