CovTANet: A Hybrid Tri-level Attention Based Network for Lesion Segmentation, Diagnosis, and Severity Prediction of COVID-19 Chest CT Scans

Rapid and precise diagnosis of COVID-19 is one of the major challenges faced by the global community to control the spread of this overgrowing pandemic. In this paper, a hybrid neural network is proposed, named CovTANet, to provide an end-to-end clinical diagnostic tool for early diagnosis, lesion segmentation, and severity prediction of COVID-19 utilizing chest computer tomography (CT) scans. A multi-phase optimization strategy is introduced for solving the challenges of complicated diagnosis at a very early stage of infection, where an efficient lesion segmentation network is optimized initially which is later integrated into a joint optimization framework for the diagnosis and severity prediction tasks providing feature enhancement of the infected regions. Moreover, for overcoming the challenges with diffused, blurred, and varying shaped edges of COVID lesions with novel and diverse characteristics, a novel segmentation network is introduced, namely Tri-level Attention-based Segmentation Network (TA-SegNet). This network has significantly reduced semantic gaps in subsequent encoding decoding stages, with immense parallelization of multi-scale features for faster convergence providing considerable performance improvement over traditional networks. Furthermore, a novel tri-level attention mechanism has been introduced, which is repeatedly utilized over the network, combining channel, spatial, and pixel attention schemes for faster and efficient generalization of contextual information embedded in the feature map through feature re-calibration and enhancement operations. Outstanding performances have been achieved in all three-tasks through extensive experimentation on a large publicly available dataset containing 1110 chest CT-volumes that signifies the effectiveness of the proposed scheme at the current stage of the pandemic.

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