Predicting diagnosis in youth at the first episode of demyelination is feasible in some but not all cases. Machine learning classifiers (MLC) can be trained to identify relationships between numerous multimodal input features and disease classifications to provide highly accurate predictions.
To assess performance of machine learning classifiers for early disease diagnosis based on visual metrics in youth with demyelination.
Standardized clinical and visual data was prospectively collected at disease onset from 141 pediatric subjects with acquired demyelinating syndromes (ADS) and 75 healthy controls (HC). Participants were recruited through The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, Ontario (2010-2020)) and University of Calgary (2010-2017). Patients were classified using consensus definitions of demyelinating disorders and serum antibody testing for myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) and aquaporin 4 (AQP4). Twenty-two auto-segmented Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) features, 4 functional visual and 4 clinical features were used in a stratified manner alone or in combination to identify which combination of features provided the highest predictive accuracy. These input features were analyzed using 9 supervised MLC (Random Forest (RF), AdaBoost, XGBoost, Decision Tree (DT), Logistic Regression, Support Vector Machines (SVM), k-Nearest Neighbors, Stochastic Gradient Descent, Multinomial Naive Bayes). Data was split 80/20 between training and test sets. Backward feature selection was performed to re-run the analysis with best scoring predictor features in the MLC with highest predictive accuracy.
AdaBoost, SVM, and DT were the best performing MLC with a test set accuracy between 82-88% in distinguishing between ADS and HC eyes. Multiple sclerosis (MS) was distinguished from HC with 92% accuracy. In descending order, fovea thickness, inferotemporal ganglion cell layer (GCL) thickness, low contrast visual acuity, outer inferior macular thickness, temporal peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer and superior GCL thicknesses were the most important contributors to disease classification.
MLC can be used to combine visual metrics and clinical parameters to distinguish ADS from HC, and to predict MS. In addition to commonly used clinical metrics, we identified other structural and functional metrics that contribute importantly to classification. Among the machine learning algorithms tested, AdaBoost, SVM and DT performed best for this model.