The utilization of artificial intelligence and machine learning as diagnostic and predictive tools in perioperative medicine holds great promise. Indeed, many studies have been performed in recent years to explore the potential. The purpose of this systematic review is to assess the current state of machine learning in perioperative medicine, its utility in prediction of complications and prognostication, and limitations related to bias and validation.


A multidisciplinary team of clinicians and engineers conducted a systematic review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) protocol. Multiple databases were searched, including Scopus, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, PubMed, Medline, Embase, and Web of Science. The systematic review focused on study design, type of machine learning model used, validation techniques applied, and reported model performance on prediction of complications and prognostication. This review further classified outcomes and machine learning applications using an ad hoc classification system. The Prediction model Risk Of Bias Assessment Tool (PROBAST) was used to assess risk of bias and applicability of the studies.


A total of 103 studies were identified. The models reported in the literature were primarily based on single-center validations (75%), with only 13% being externally validated across multiple centers. Most of the mortality models demonstrated a limited ability to discriminate and classify effectively. The PROBAST assessment indicated a high risk of systematic errors in predicted outcomes and artificial intelligence or machine learning applications.


The findings indicate that the development of this field is still in its early stages. This systematic review indicates that application of machine learning in perioperative medicine is still at an early stage. While many studies suggest potential utility, several key challenges must be first overcome before their introduction into clinical practice.

Editor’s Perspective
What We Already Know about This Topic
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning may offer a novel approach to better predict perioperative outcomes.
What This Article Tells Us That Is New
  • This systematic review and meta-analysis identified 103 studies that employed artificial intelligence or machine learning to predict perioperative outcomes, but the overall quality was only modest with only 13% being externally validated. The authors conclude that the artificial intelligence and machine learning may hold great promise but are not ready for prime time.