The overuse of head CT examinations has been much discussed, especially those for minor traumatic brain injury (TBI). In the disruptive era, machine learning (ML) is one of the prediction tools that has been used and applied in various fields of neurosurgery. The objective of this study was to compare the predictive performance between ML and a nomogram, which is the other prediction tool for intracranial injury following cranial CT in children with TBI.
Data from 964 pediatric patients with TBI were randomly divided into a training data set (75%) for hyperparameter tuning and supervised learning from 14 clinical parameters, while the remaining data (25%) were used for validation purposes. Moreover, a nomogram was developed from the training data set with similar parameters. Therefore, models from various ML algorithms and the nomogram were built and deployed via web-based application.
A random forest classifier (RFC) algorithm established the best performance for predicting intracranial injury following cranial CT of the brain. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for the performance of RFC algorithms was 0.80, with 0.34 sensitivity, 0.95 specificity, 0.73 positive predictive value, 0.80 negative predictive value, and 0.79 accuracy.
The ML algorithms, particularly the RFC, indicated relatively excellent predictive performance that would have the ability to support physicians in balancing the overuse of head CT scans and reducing the treatment costs of pediatric TBI in general practice.