A contemporary review of machine learning in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery

Matthew G Crowson, Jonathan Ranisau, Antoine Eskander, Aaron Babier, Bin Xu, Russel R Kahmke, Joseph M Chen, Timothy C Y Chan
Laryngoscope 2020, 130 (1): 45-51
One of the key challenges with big data is leveraging the complex network of information to yield useful clinical insights. The confluence of massive amounts of health data and a desire to make inferences and insights on these data has produced a substantial amount of interest in machine-learning analytic methods. There has been a drastic increase in the otolaryngology literature volume describing novel applications of machine learning within the past 5 years. In this timely contemporary review, we provide an overview of popular machine-learning techniques, and review recent machine-learning applications in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery including neurotology, head and neck oncology, laryngology, and rhinology. Investigators have realized significant success in validated models with model sensitivities and specificities approaching 100%. Challenges remain in the implementation of machine-learning algorithms. This may be in part the unfamiliarity of these techniques to clinician leaders on the front lines of patient care. Spreading awareness and confidence in machine learning will follow with further validation and proof-of-value analyses that demonstrate model performance superiority over established methods. We are poised to see a greater influx of machine-learning applications to clinical problems in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, and it is prudent for providers to understand the potential benefits and limitations of these technologies. Laryngoscope, 130:45-51, 2020.


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