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In Chinese journal of traumatology = Zhonghua chuang shang za zhi

PURPOSE : Traumatic brain injury (TBI) generally causes mortality and disability, particularly in children. Machine learning (ML) is a computer algorithm, applied as a clinical prediction tool. The present study aims to assess the predictability of ML for the functional outcomes of pediatric TBI.

METHODS : A retrospective cohort study was performed targeting children with TBI who were admitted to the trauma center of southern Thailand between January 2009 and July 2020. The patient was excluded if he (1) did not undergo a CT scan of the brain, (2) died within the first 24 h, (3) had unavailable complete medical records during admission, or (4) was unable to provide updated outcomes. Clinical and radiologic characteristics were collected such as vital signs, Glasgow coma scale score, and characteristics of intracranial injuries. The functional outcome was assessed using the King's Outcome Scale for Childhood Head Injury, which was thus dichotomized into favourable outcomes and unfavourable outcomes: good recovery and moderate disability were categorized as the former, whereas death, vegetative state, and severe disability were categorized as the latter. The prognostic factors were estimated using traditional binary logistic regression. By data splitting, 70% of data were used for training the ML models and the remaining 30% were used for testing the ML models. The supervised algorithms including support vector machines, neural networks, random forest, logistic regression, naive Bayes and k-nearest neighbor were performed for training of the ML models. Therefore, the ML models were tested for the predictive performances by the testing datasets.

RESULTS : There were 828 patients in the cohort. The median age was 72 months (interquartile range 104.7 months, range 2-179 months). Road traffic accident was the most common mechanism of injury, accounting for 68.7%. At hospital discharge, favourable outcomes were achieved in 97.0% of patients, while the mortality rate was 2.2%. Glasgow coma scale score, hypotension, pupillary light reflex, and subarachnoid haemorrhage were associated with TBI outcomes following traditional binary logistic regression; hence, the 4 prognostic factors were used for building ML models and testing performance. The support vector machine model had the best performance for predicting pediatric TBI outcomes: sensitivity 0.95, specificity 0.60, positive predicted value 0.99, negative predictive value 1.0; accuracy 0.94, and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve 0.78.

CONCLUSION : The ML algorithms of the present study have a high sensitivity; therefore they have the potential to be screening tools for predicting functional outcomes and counselling prognosis in general practice of pediatric TBIs.

Tunthanathip Thara, Oearsakul Thakul


Logistic regression, Machine learning, Pediatrics, Random forest, Support vector machine, Traumatic brain injury