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In Computers in biology and medicine

Preoperative assessment of the difficulty of tracheal intubation is of great importance in anesthesia practice because failed intubation can lead to severe complications and even death. The Mallampati score is widely used as a critical assessment criterion in combination with other measures to assess the difficulty of tracheal intubation. The performance of existing methods for Mallampati classification with artificial intelligence (AI) is unreliable to the extent that the current clinical judgment of the Mallampati score relies entirely on doctors' experience. In this paper, we propose a new method for automatic Mallampati classification. Our method extracts deep features that are more favorable for the Mallampati classification task by introducing an attention mechanism into the basic deep convolutional neural network (DCNN) and then further improves the classification performance by jointly using attention-based deep features with handcrafted features. We conducted experiments on a dataset consisting of 321 oral images collected online. The proposed method has a classification accuracy of 97.50%, a sensitivity of 96.52%, a specificity of 98.05%, and an F1 score of 96.52% after five-fold cross-validation. The experimental results show that our proposed method is superior to other methods, can assist doctors in determining Mallampati class objectively and accurately, and provide an essential reference element for assessing the difficulty of tracheal intubation.

Zhang Fan, Xu Yuelei, Zhou Zhaoyun, Zhang Han, Yang Ke


Attention mechanism, Deep convolutional neural network (DCNN), Deep features, Handcrafted features, Mallampati classification