Background. Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhoea (CSFR) is a common complication following endonasal skull base surgery, a technique that is fundamental to the treatment of pituitary adenomas and many other skull base tumours. The CRANIAL study explored CSFR incidence and related risk factors, particularly skull base repair techniques, via a multicentre prospective observational study. We sought to use machine learning to leverage this complex multicentre dataset for CSFR prediction and risk factor analysis. Methods. A dataset of 865 cases - 725 transsphenoidal approach (TSA) and 140 expanded endonasal approach (EEA) - with cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhoea as the primary outcome, was used. Relevant variables were extracted from the data, and prediction variables were divided into two categories, preoperative risk factors; and repair techniques, with 6 and 11 variables respectively. Three types of machine learning models were developed in order to predict CSFR: logistic regression (LR); decision tree (DT); and neural network (NN). Models were validated using 5-fold cross-validation, compared via their area under the curve (AUC) evaluation metric, and key prediction variables were identified using their Shapley additive explanations (SHAP) score. Results. CSFR rates were 3.9% (28/725) for the transsphenoidal approach and 7.1% (10/140) for the expanded endonasal approach. NNs outperformed LR and DT for CSFR prediction, with a mean AUC of 0.80 (0.70-0.90) for TSA and 0.78 (0.60-0.96) for EEA, when all risk factor and intraoperative repair data were integrated into the model. The presence of intraoperative CSF leak was the most prominent risk factor for CSFR. Elevated BMI and revision surgery were also associated with CSFR for the transsphenoidal approach. CSF diversion and gasket sealing appear to be strong predictors of the absence of CSFR for both approaches. Conclusion. Neural networks are effective at predicting CSFR and uncovering key CSFR predictors in patients following endonasal skull base surgery, outperforming traditional statistical methods. These models will be improved further with larger and more granular datasets, improved NN architecture, and external validation. In the future, such predictive models could be used to assist surgical decision-making and support more individualised patient counselling.



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Frontiers in Oncology





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Peninsula Medical School