Machine learning can be used to explore the complex multifactorial patterns underlying postsurgical graft detachment after endothelial corneal transplantation surgery and to evaluate the marginal effect of various practice pattern modulations. We included all posterior lamellar keratoplasty procedures recorded in the Dutch Cornea Transplant Registry from 2015 through 2018 and collected the center-specific practice patterns using a questionnaire. All available data regarding the donor, recipient, surgery, and practice pattern, were coded into 91 factors that might be associated with the occurrence of a graft detachment. In this research, we used three machine learning methods; a regularized logistic regression (lasso), classification tree analysis (CTA), and random forest classification (RFC), to select the most predictive subset of variables for graft detachment. A total of 3647 transplants were included in our analysis and the overall prevalence of graft detachment was 9.9%. In an independent test set the area under the curve for the lasso, CTA, and RFC was 0.70, 0.65, and 0.72, respectively. Identified risk factors included: a Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty procedure, prior graft failure, and the use of sulfur hexafluoride gas. Factors with a reduced risk included: performing combined procedures, using pre-cut donor tissue, and a pre-operative laser iridotomy. These results can help surgeons to review their practice patterns and generate hypotheses for empirical research regarding the origins of graft detachments.
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