A nonlinear model for diagnosing malignancy in patients with exudative plural effusion using routine plural fluid findings


Background: There is a challenge in diagnosing cancer in patients with exudative plural effusion using a noninvasive and accurate method.

Objective: We developed artificial neural network (ANN), as a nonlinear model, to discriminate malignant exudative plural effusion from nonmalignant based on routine pleural fluid findings.

Methods: The plural fluid parameters including total and differential cell counts, total proteins, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), glucose, adenosine deaminase (ADA), as well as age and sex of 114 patients with exudative plural effusion were applied by models as input. The output was supposed to be the presence or absence of the cancer.

Results: The accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of ANN for predicting malignancy were 89.7%, 86.7%, and 91.7%, respectively. In addition, the neural network significantly outperformed the logistic regression model, as a linear model, (AUC: 0.892 vs. 0.633, respectively, p < 0.001).

Conclusion: The ANN is a novel accurate and noninvasive method that can be used clinically to diagnose malignancy in patients with exudative plural effusion.

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