Objective

Compare machine learning (ML)-based predictive analytics methods to traditional logistic regression in classification of olfactory dysfunction in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS-OD) and identify predictors within a large multi-institutional cohort of refractory CRS patients.

Methods

Adult CRS patients enrolled in a prospective, multi-institutional, observational cohort study were assessed for baseline CRS-OD using a smell identification test (SIT) or brief SIT (bSIT). Four different ML methods were compared to traditional logistic regression for classification of CRS normosmics versus CRS-OD.

Results

Data were collected for 611 study participants who met inclusion criteria between 2011 April and 2015 July. Thirty-four percent of enrolled patients demonstrated olfactory loss on psychophysical testing. Differences between CRS normosmics and those with smell loss included objective disease measures (CT and endoscopy scores), age, sex, prior surgeries, socioeconomic status, steroid use, polyp presence, asthma, and aspirin sensitivity. Most ML methods performed favorably in terms of predictive ability. Top predictors include factors previously reported in the literature, as well as several socioeconomic factors.

Conclusion

Olfactory dysfunction is a variable phenomenon in CRS patients. ML methods perform well compared to traditional logistic regression in classification of normosmia versus smell loss in CRS, and are able to include numerous risk factors into prediction models. Several actionable features were identified as risk factors for CRS-OD. These results suggest that ML methods may be useful for current understanding and future study of hyposmia secondary to sinonasal disease, the most common cause of persistent olfactory loss in the general population.

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