Machine learning predicts blood lactate levels in children after cardiac surgery in paediatric ICU

Cardiol Young. 2022 Apr 4;1-8. doi: 10.1017/S1047951122000932. Online ahead of print.


Background: Although serum lactate levels are widely accepted markers of haemodynamic instability, an alternative method to evaluate haemodynamic stability/instability continuously and non-invasively may assist in improving the standard of patient care. We hypothesise that blood lactate in paediatric ICU patients can be predicted using machine learning applied to arterial waveforms and perioperative characteristics.

Methods: Forty-eight post-operative children, median age 4 months (2.9-11.8 interquartile range), mean baseline heart rate of 131 beats per minute (range 33-197), mean lactate level at admission of 22.3 mg/dL (range 6.3-71.1), were included. Morphological arterial waveform characteristics were acquired and analysed. Predicting lactate levels was accomplished using regression-based supervised learning algorithms, evaluated with hold-out cross-validation, including, basing prediction on the currently acquired physiological measurements along with those acquired at admission, as well as adding the most recent lactate measurement and the time since that measurement as prediction parameters. Algorithms were assessed with mean absolute error, the average of the absolute differences between actual and predicted lactate concentrations. Low values represent superior model performance.

Results: The best performing algorithm was the tuned random forest, which yielded a mean absolute error of 3.38 mg/dL when predicting blood lactate with updated ground truth from the most recent blood draw.

Conclusions: The random forest is capable of predicting serum lactate levels by analysing perioperative variables, including the arterial pressure waveform. Thus, machine learning can predict patient blood lactate levels, a proxy for haemodynamic instability, non-invasively, continuously and with accuracy that may demonstrate clinical utility.

Keywords: CHD; ICU; Machine learning; haemodynamics; prediction.