Send to

Choose Destination
Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2019 Aug;143(8):990-998. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2018-0238-OA. Epub 2019 Feb 20.

Streamlining Quality Review of Mass Spectrometry Data in the Clinical Laboratory by Use of Machine Learning.

Author information

From the Division of Laboratory Medicine, Department of Pathology, University of Virginia School of Medicine and Health System, Charlottesville. Dr Yu is currently located in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington.



Turnaround time and productivity of clinical mass spectrometric (MS) testing are hampered by time-consuming manual review of the analytical quality of MS data before release of patient results.


To determine whether a classification model created by using standard machine learning algorithms can verify analytically acceptable MS results and thereby reduce manual review requirements.


We obtained retrospective data from gas chromatography-MS analyses of 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH) in 1267 urine samples. The data for each sample had been labeled previously as either analytically unacceptable or acceptable by manual review. The dataset was randomly split into training and test sets (848 and 419 samples, respectively), maintaining equal proportions of acceptable (90%) and unacceptable (10%) results in each set. We used stratified 10-fold cross-validation in assessing the abilities of 6 supervised machine learning algorithms to distinguish unacceptable from acceptable assay results in the training dataset. The classifier with the highest recall was used to build a final model, and its performance was evaluated against the test dataset.


In comparison testing of the 6 classifiers, a model based on the Support Vector Machines algorithm yielded the highest recall and acceptable precision. After optimization, this model correctly identified all unacceptable results in the test dataset (100% recall) with a precision of 81%.


Automated data review identified all analytically unacceptable assays in the test dataset, while reducing the manual review requirement by about 87%. This automation strategy can focus manual review only on assays likely to be problematic, allowing improved throughput and turnaround time without reducing quality.


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Allen Press, Inc.
Loading ...
Support Center