Machine learning algorithms and forced oscillation measurements to categorise the airway obstruction severity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Comput Methods Programs Biomed. 2015 Feb;118(2):186-97. doi: 10.1016/j.cmpb.2014.11.002. Epub 2014 Nov 22.


The purpose of this study was to develop automatic classifiers to simplify the clinical use and increase the accuracy of the forced oscillation technique (FOT) in the categorisation of airway obstruction level in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The data consisted of FOT parameters obtained from 168 volunteers (42 healthy and 126 COPD subjects with four different levels of obstruction). The first part of this study showed that FOT parameters do not provide adequate accuracy in identifying COPD subjects in the first levels of obstruction, as well as in discriminating between close levels of obstruction. In the second part of this study, different supervised machine learning (ML) techniques were investigated, including k-nearest neighbour (KNN), random forest (RF) and support vector machines with linear (SVML) and radial basis function kernels (SVMR). These algorithms were applied only in situations where high categorisation accuracy [area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve (AUC)≥0.9] was not achieved with the FOT parameter alone. It was observed that KNN and RF classifiers improved categorisation accuracy. Notably, in four of the six cases studied, an AUC≥0.9 was achieved. Even in situations where an AUC≥0.9 was not achieved, there was a significant improvement in categorisation performance (AUC≥0.83). In conclusion, machine learning classifiers can help in the categorisation of COPD airway obstruction. They can assist clinicians in tracking disease progression, evaluating the risk of future disease exacerbations and guiding therapy.

Keywords: Airway obstruction severity; Artificial intelligence; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Classification; Clinical decision support; Forced oscillation technique.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / pathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index