Deep learning (DL) neural networks have only recently been employed to interpret chest radiography (CXR) to screen and triage people for pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). No published studies have compared multiple DL systems and populations. We conducted a retrospective evaluation of three DL systems (CAD4TB, Lunit INSIGHT, and qXR) for detecting TB-associated abnormalities in chest radiographs from outpatients in Nepal and Cameroon. All 1196 individuals received a Xpert MTB/RIF assay and a CXR read by two groups of radiologists and the DL systems. Xpert was used as the reference standard. The area under the curve of the three systems was similar: Lunit (0.94, 95% CI: 0.93–0.96), qXR (0.94, 95% CI: 0.92–0.97) and CAD4TB (0.92, 95% CI: 0.90–0.95). When matching the sensitivity of the radiologists, the specificities of the DL systems were significantly higher except for one. Using DL systems to read CXRs could reduce the number of Xpert MTB/RIF tests needed by 66% while maintaining sensitivity at 95% or better. Using a universal cutoff score resulted in different performance in each site, highlighting the need to select scores based on the population screened. These DL systems should be considered by TB programs where human resources are constrained, and automated technology is available.
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