Unsupervised Machine Learning of the Combined Danish and Norwegian Knee Ligament Registers: Identification of 5 Distinct Patient Groups With Differing ACL Revision Rates

Richard Kyle M Martin, Solvejg Wastvedt, Ayoosh Pareek, Andreas Persson, Håvard Visnes, Anne Marie Fenstad, Gilbert Moatshe, Julian Wolfson, Martin Lind, Lars Engebretsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Most clinical machine learning applications use a supervised learning approach using labeled variables. In contrast, unsupervised learning enables pattern detection without a prespecified outcome. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to apply unsupervised learning to the combined Danish and Norwegian knee ligament register (KLR) with the goal of detecting distinct subgroups. It was hypothesized that resulting groups would have differing rates of subsequent anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) revision. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: K-prototypes clustering was performed on the complete case KLR data. After performing the unsupervised learning analysis, the authors defined clinically relevant characteristics of each cluster using variable summaries, surgeons’ domain knowledge, and Shapley Additive exPlanations analysis. Results: Five clusters were identified. Cluster 1 (revision rate, 9.9%) patients were young (mean age, 22 years; SD, 6 years), received hamstring tendon (HT) autograft (91%), and had lower baseline Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) Sport and Recreation (Sports) scores (mean, 25.0; SD, 15.6). Cluster 2 (revision rate, 6.9%) patients received HT autograft (89%) and had higher baseline KOOS Sports scores (mean, 67.2; SD, 16.5). Cluster 3 (revision rate, 4.7%) patients received bone–patellar tendon–bone (BPTB) or quadriceps tendon (QT) autograft (94%) and had higher baseline KOOS Sports scores (mean, 65.8; SD, 16.4). Cluster 4 (revision rate, 4.1%) patients received BPTB or QT autograft (88%) and had low baseline KOOS Sports scores (mean, 20.5; SD, 14.0). Cluster 5 (revision rate, 3.1%) patients were older (mean age, 42 years; SD, 7 years), received HT autograft (89%), and had low baseline KOOS Sports scores (mean, 23.4; SD, 17.6). Conclusion: Unsupervised learning identified 5 distinct KLR patient subgroups and each grouping was associated with a unique ACLR revision rate. Patients can be approximately classified into 1 of the 5 clusters based on only 3 variables: age, graft choice (HT, BPTB, or QT autograft), and preoperative KOOS Sports subscale score. If externally validated, the resulting groupings may enable quick risk stratification for future patients undergoing ACLR in the clinical setting. Patients in cluster 1 are considered high risk (9.9%), cluster 2 patients medium risk (6.9%), and patients in clusters 3 to 5 low risk (3.1%-4.7%) for revision ACLR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-891
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Volume52
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s).

Keywords

  • ACL revision
  • artificial intelligence
  • machine learning
  • outcome prediction
  • unsupervised learning

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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