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In Frontiers in medicine

Objective : Ectopic pregnancy (EP) is well known for its critical maternal outcome. Early detection could make the difference between life and death in pregnancy. Our aim was to make a prompt diagnosis before the rupture occur. Thus, the predictive analytical models using both conventional statistics and machine learning (ML) methods were studied.

Materials and methods : A retrospective cohort study was conducted on 407 pregnancies with unknown location (PULs): 306 PULs for internal validation and 101 PULs for external validation, randomized with a nested cross-validation technique. Using a set of 22 study features based on clinical factors, serum marker and ultrasound findings from electronic medical records, analyzing with neural networks (NNs), decision tree (DT), support vector machines (SVMs), and a statistical logistic regression (LR). Diagnostic performances were compared with the area under the curve (ROC-AUC), including sensitivity and specificity for decisional use.

Results : Comparing model performance (internal validation) to predict EP, LR ranked first, with a mean ROC-AUC ± SD of 0.879 ± 0.010. In testing data (external validation), NNs ranked first, followed closely by LR, SVMs, and DT with average ROC-AUC ± SD of 0.898 ± 0.027, 0.896 ± 0.034, 0.882 ± 0.029, and 0.856 ± 0.033, respectively. For clinical aid, we report sensitivity of mean ± SD in LR: 90.20% ± 3.49%; SVM: 89.79% ± 3.66%; DT: 89.22% ± 4.53%; and NNs: 86.92% ± 3.24%, consecutively. However, specificity ± SD was ranked by NNs, followed by SVMs, LR, and DT, which were 82.02 ± 8.34%, 80.37 ± 5.15%, 79.65% ± 6.01%, and 78.97% ± 4.07%, respectively.

Conclusion : Both statistics and the ML model could achieve satisfactory predictions for EP. In model learning, the highest ranked model was LR, showing that EP prediction might possess linear or causal data pattern. However, in new testing data, NNs could overcome statistics. This highlights the potency of ML in solving complicated problems with various patterns, while overcoming generalization error of data.

Rueangket Ploywarong, Rittiluechai Kristsanamon, Prayote Akara


decision tree and support vector machines, ectopic pregnancy, machine learning, neural networks, pregnancy of unknown location