The State of Machine Learning in Outcomes Prediction of Transsphenoidal Surgery: A Systematic Review

Darrion B. Yang, Alexander D. Smith, Emily J. Smith, Anant Naik, Mika Janbahan, Charee M. Thompson, Lav R. Varshney, Wael Hassaneen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this analysis is to assess the use of machine learning (ML) algorithms in the prediction of postoperative outcomes, including complications, recurrence, and death in transsphenoidal surgery. Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, we systematically reviewed all papers that used at least one ML algorithm to predict outcomes after transsphenoidal surgery. We searched Scopus, PubMed, and Web of Science databases for studies published prior to May 12, 2021. We identified 13 studies enrolling 5,048 patients. We extracted the general characteristics of each study; the sensitivity, specificity, area under the curve (AUC) of the ML models developed as well as the features identified as important by the ML models. We identified 12 studies with 5,048 patients that included ML algorithms for adenomas, three with 1807 patients specifically for acromegaly, and five with 2105 patients specifically for Cushing's disease. Nearly all were single-institution studies. The studies used a heterogeneous mix of ML algorithms and features to build predictive models. All papers reported an AUC greater than 0.7, which indicates clinical utility. ML algorithms have the potential to predict postoperative outcomes of transsphenoidal surgery and can improve patient care. Ensemble algorithms and neural networks were often top performers when compared with other ML algorithms. Biochemical and preoperative features were most likely to be selected as important by ML models. Inexplicability remains a challenge, but algorithms such as local interpretable model-agnostic explanation or Shapley value can increase explainability of ML algorithms. Our analysis shows that ML algorithms have the potential to greatly assist surgeons in clinical decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-559
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurological Surgery, Part B: Skull Base
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 30 2021


  • Cushing's disease
  • acromegaly
  • artificial intelligence
  • machine learning
  • pituitary adenomas
  • transsphenoidal surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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