Machine learning in clinical diagnosis, prognostication, and management of acute traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI): A systematic review.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

J Clin Orthop Trauma


washington; everett; prmc


BACKGROUND: Machine learning has been applied to improve diagnosis and prognostication of acute traumatic spinal cord injury. We investigate potential for clinical integration of machine learning in this patient population to navigate variability in injury and recovery.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a systematic review using PRISMA guidelines through PubMed database to identify studies that use machine learning algorithms for clinical application toward improvements in diagnosis, management, and predictive modeling.

RESULTS: Of the 132 records identified, a total of 13 articles met inclusion criteria and were included in final analysis. Of the 13 articles, 5 focused on diagnostic accuracy and 8 were related to prognostication or management of traumatic spinal cord injury. Across studies, 1983 patients with spinal cord injury were evaluated with most classifying as ASIA C or D. Retrospective designs were used in 10 of 13 studies and 3 were prospective. Studies focused on MRI evaluation and segmentation for diagnostic accuracy and prognostication, investigation of mean arterial pressure in acute care and intraoperative settings, prediction of ambulatory and functional ability, chronic complication prevention, and psychological quality of life assessments. Decision tree, random forests (RF), support vector machines (SVM), hierarchical cluster tree analysis (HCTA), artificial neural networks (ANN), convolutional neural networks (CNN) machine learning subtypes were used.

CONCLUSIONS: Machine learning represents a platform technology with clinical application in traumatic spinal cord injury diagnosis, prognostication, management, rehabilitation, and risk prevention of chronic complications and mental illness. SVM models showed improved accuracy when compared to other ML subtypes surveyed. Inherent variability across patients with SCI offers unique opportunity for ML and personalized medicine to drive desired outcomes and assess risks in this patient population.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)