Development and Validation of an Automated Classifier to Diagnose Acute Otitis Media in Children

Nader Shaikh, Shannon J. Conway, Jelena Kovačević, Filipe Condessa, Timothy R. Shope, Mary Ann Haralam, Catherine Campese, Matthew C. Lee, Tomas Larsson, Zafer Cavdar, Alejandro Hoberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Acute otitis media (AOM) is a frequently diagnosed illness in children, yet the accuracy of diagnosis has been consistently low. Multiple neural networks have been developed to recognize the presence of AOM with limited clinical application. Objective: To develop and internally validate an artificial intelligence decision-support tool to interpret videos of the tympanic membrane and enhance accuracy in the diagnosis of AOM. Design, Setting, and Participants: This diagnostic study analyzed otoscopic videos of the tympanic membrane captured using a smartphone during outpatient clinic visits at 2 sites in Pennsylvania between 2018 and 2023. Eligible participants included children who presented for sick visits or wellness visits. Exposure: Otoscopic examination. Main Outcomes and Measures: Using the otoscopic videos that were annotated by validated otoscopists, a deep residual-recurrent neural network was trained to predict both features of the tympanic membrane and the diagnosis of AOM vs no AOM. The accuracy of this network was compared with a second network trained using a decision tree approach. A noise quality filter was also trained to prompt users that the video segment acquired may not be adequate for diagnostic purposes. Results: Using 1151 videos from 635 children (majority younger than 3 years of age), the deep residual-recurrent neural network had almost identical diagnostic accuracy as the decision tree network. The finalized deep residual-recurrent neural network algorithm classified tympanic membrane videos into AOM vs no AOM categories with a sensitivity of 93.8% (95% CI, 92.6%-95.0%) and specificity of 93.5% (95% CI, 92.8%-94.3%) and the decision tree model had a sensitivity of 93.7% (95% CI, 92.4%-94.9%) and specificity of 93.3% (92.5%-94.1%). Of the tympanic membrane features outputted, bulging of the TM most closely aligned with the predicted diagnosis; bulging was present in 230 of 230 cases (100%) in which the diagnosis was predicted to be AOM in the test set. Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that given its high accuracy, the algorithm and medical-grade application that facilitates image acquisition and quality filtering could reasonably be used in primary care or acute care settings to aid with automated diagnosis of AOM and decisions regarding treatment..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-407
JournalJAMA Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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