Robust Prediction of Non-home Discharge After Thoracolumbar Spine Surgery With Ensemble Machine Learning and Validation on a Nationwide Cohort

Aly A. Valliani, Nora C. Kim, Michael L. Martini, Jonathan S. Gal, Sean N. Neifert, Rui Feng, Eric A. Geng, Jun S. Kim, Samuel K. Cho, Eric K. Oermann, John M. Caridi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Delays in postoperative referrals to rehabilitation or skilled nursing facilities contribute toward extended hospital stays. Facilitating more efficient referrals through accurate preoperative prediction algorithms has the potential to reduce unnecessary economic burden and minimize risk of hospital-acquired complications. We develop a robust machine learning algorithm to predict non-home discharge after thoracolumbar spine surgery that generalizes to unseen populations and identifies markers for prediction. Methods: Retrospective electronic health records were obtained from our single-center data warehouse (SCDW) to identify patients undergoing thoracolumbar spine surgeries between 2008 and 2019 for algorithm development and internal validation. The National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database was queried to identify thoracolumbar surgeries between 2009 and 2017 for out-of-sample validation. Ensemble decision trees were constructed for prediction and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) was used to assess performance. Shapley additive explanations values were derived to identify drivers of non-home discharge for interpretation of algorithm predictions. Results: A total of 5224 cases of thoracolumbar spine surgeries were isolated from the SCDW and 492,312 cases were identified from NIS. The model achieved an AUROC of 0.81 (standard deviation [SD] = 0.01) on the SCDW test set and 0.77 (SD = 0.01) on the nationwide NIS data set, thereby demonstrating robust prediction of non-home discharge across all diverse patient cohorts. Age, total Elixhauser comorbidities, Medicare insurance, weighted Elixhauser score, and female sex were among the most important predictors of non-home discharge. Conclusions: Machine learning algorithms reliably predict non-home discharge after thoracolumbar spine surgery across single-center and national cohorts and identify preoperative features of importance that elucidate algorithm decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e83-e91
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Volume165
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Keywords

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Electronic medical records
  • Game theory
  • Machine learning
  • Thoracolumbar discectomy and fusion
  • Thoracolumbar spine

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