Human Experts’ and a Fuzzy Model's Predictions of Outcomes of Scoliosis Treatment: A Comparative Analysis


Brace treatment is the most commonly used nonsurgical treatment for adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis. However, brace treatment is not always successful and the factors influencing its success are not completely clear. This makes treatment outcome difficult to predict. A computer model which can accurately predict treatment outcomes could potentially provide valuable treatment recommendations. This paper describes a fuzzy system that includes a prediction model and a decision support engine. The model was constructed using conditional fuzzy c-means clustering to discover patterns in retrospective patient data. The model's ability to predict treatment outcome was compared to the ability of eight Scoliosis experts. The model and experts each predicted treatment outcome retrospectively for 28 braced patients, and these predictions were compared to the actual outcomes. The model outperformed all but one expert individually and performed similarly to the experts as a group. These results suggest that the fuzzy model is capable of providing meaningful treatment recommendations. This study offers the first model for this application whose performance has been shown to be at or above the human expert level.

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