Machine Learning Versus Physicians' Prediction of Acute Kidney Injury in Critically Ill Adults

A Prospective Evaluation of the AKIpredictor

Marine Flechet; Stefano Falini; Claudia Bonetti; Fabian Güiza; Miet Schetz; Greet Van den Berghe; Geert Meyfroidt


Crit Care. 2019;23(282) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Early diagnosis of acute kidney injury (AKI) is a major challenge in the intensive care unit (ICU). The AKIpredictor is a set of machine-learning-based prediction models for AKI using routinely collected patient information, and accessible online. In order to evaluate its clinical value, the AKIpredictor was compared to physicians' predictions.

Methods: Prospective observational study in five ICUs of a tertiary academic center. Critically ill adults without end-stage renal disease or AKI upon admission were considered for enrollment. Using structured questionnaires, physicians were asked upon admission, on the first morning, and after 24 h to predict the development of AKI stages 2 or 3 (AKI-23) during the first week of ICU stay. Discrimination, calibration, and net benefit of physicians' predictions were compared against the ones by the AKIpredictor.

Results: Two hundred fifty-two patients were included, 30 (12%) developed AKI-23. In the cohort of patients with predictions by physicians and AKIpredictor, the performance of physicians and AKIpredictor were respectively upon ICU admission, area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) 0.80 [0.69–0.92] versus 0.75 [0.62–0.88] (n = 120, P = 0.25) with net benefit in ranges 0–26% versus 0–74%; on the first morning, AUROC 0.94 [0.89–0.98] versus 0.89 [0.82–0.97] (n = 187, P = 0.27) with main net benefit in ranges 0–10% versus 0–48%; after 24 h, AUROC 0.95 [0.89–1.00] versus 0.89 [0.79–0.99] (n = 89, P = 0.09) with main net benefit in ranges 0–67% versus 0–50%.

Conclusions: The machine-learning-based AKIpredictor achieved similar discriminative performance as physicians for prediction of AKI-23, and higher net benefit overall, because physicians overestimated the risk of AKI. This suggests an added value of the systematic risk stratification by the AKIpredictor to physicians' predictions, in particular to select high-risk patients or reduce false positives in studies evaluating new and potentially harmful therapies. Due to the low event rate, future studies are needed to validate these findings.