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In International journal of medical informatics

INTRODUCTION : Machine learning has been increasingly used to develop predictive models to diagnose different disease conditions. The heterogeneity of the kidney transplant population makes predicting graft outcomes extremely challenging. Several kidney graft outcome prediction models have been developed using machine learning, and are available in the literature. However, a systematic review of machine learning based prediction methods applied to kidney transplant has not been done to date. The main aim of our study was to perform an in-depth systematic analysis of different machine learning methods used to predict graft outcomes among kidney transplant patients, and assess their usefulness as an aid to decision-making.

METHODS : A systemic review of machine learning methods used to predict graft outcomes among kidney transplant patients was carried out using a search of the Medline, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Cochrane databases.

RESULTS : A total of 295 articles were identified and extracted. Of these, 18 met the inclusion criteria. Most of the studies were published in the United States after 2010. The population size used to develop the models varied from 80 to 92,844, and the number of features in the models ranged from 6 to 71. The most common machine learning methods used were artificial neural networks, decision trees and Bayesian belief networks. Most of the machine learning based predictive models predicted graft failure with high sensitivity and specificity. Only one machine learning based prediction model had modelled time-to-event (survival) information. Seven studies compared the predictive performance of machine learning models with traditional regression methods and the performance of machine learning methods was found to be mixed, when compared with traditional regression methods.

CONCLUSION : There was a wide variation in the size of the study population and the input variables used. However, the prediction accuracy provided mixed results when machine learning and traditional predictive methods are compared. Based on reported gains in predictive performance, machine learning has the potential to improve kidney transplant outcome prediction and aid medical decision making.

Senanayake Sameera, White Nicole, Graves Nicholas, Healy Helen, Baboolal Keshwar, Kularatna Sanjeewa


Graft failure, Kidney transplant, Machine learning, Predictive models