Background: The Society of Thoracic Surgeons risk scores are widely used to assess risk of morbidity and mortality in specific cardiac surgeries but may not perform optimally in all patients. In a cohort of patients undergoing cardiac surgery, we developed a data-driven, institution-specific machine learning–based model inferred from multi-modal electronic health records and compared the performance with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons models. Methods: All adult patients undergoing cardiac surgery between 2011 and 2016 were included. Routine electronic health record administrative, demographic, clinical, hemodynamic, laboratory, pharmacological, and procedural data features were extracted. The outcome was postoperative mortality. The database was randomly split into training (development) and test (evaluation) cohorts. Models developed using 4 classification algorithms were compared using 6 evaluation metrics. The performance of the final model was compared with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons models for 7 index surgical procedures. Results: A total of 6392 patients were included and described by 4016 features. Overall mortality was 3.0% (n = 193). The XGBoost algorithm using only features with no missing data (336 features) yielded the best-performing predictor. When applied to the test set, the predictor performed well (F-measure = 0.775; precision = 0.756; recall = 0.795; accuracy = 0.986; area under the receiver operating characteristic curve = 0.978; area under the precision-recall curve = 0.804). eXtreme Gradient Boosting consistently demonstrated improved performance over the Society of Thoracic Surgeons models when evaluated on index procedures within the test set. Conclusions: Machine learning models using institution-specific multi-modal electronic health records may improve performance in predicting mortality for individual patients undergoing cardiac surgery compared with the standard-of-care, population-derived Society of Thoracic Surgeons models. Institution-specific models may provide insights complementary to population-derived risk predictions to aid patient-level decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-251
Number of pages38
JournalJTCVS Open
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • cardiac surgery
  • clinical outcomes
  • electronic health records
  • machine learning
  • prediction modeling
  • risk prediction


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