Automatic identification of malaria and other red blood cell inclusions using convolutional neural networks

Angel Molina, José Rodellar, Laura Boldú, Andrea Acevedo, Santiago Alférez, Anna Merino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Malaria is a serious disease responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Many efforts have been made to aid in the diagnosis of malaria using machine learning techniques, but to date, the presence of other elements that may interfere with the recognition of malaria has not been considered. We have developed the first deep learning model using convolutional neural networks capable of differentiating malaria-infected red blood cells from not only normal erythrocytes but also erythrocytes with other types of inclusions. 6415 images of red blood cells were segmented from digital images of 53 peripheral blood smears using thresholding and watershed transformation techniques. These images were used to train a VGG-16 architecture using transfer learning. Using an independent test set of 23 smears, this model was 99.5% accurate in classifying malaria parasites and other red blood cell inclusions. This model also exhibited sensitivity and specificity values of 100% and 91.7%, respectively, classifying a complete smear as infected or not infected. Our model represents a promising advance for automation in the identification of malaria-infected patients. The differentiation between malaria parasites and other red blood cell inclusions demonstrates the potential utility of our model in a real work environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104680
JournalComputers in Biology and Medicine
Volume136
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics

Cite this