Applying machine learning to consumer wearable data for the early detection of complications after pediatric appendectomy

Hassan M.K. Ghomrawi, Megan K. O’Brien, Michela Carter, Rebecca Macaluso, Rushmin Khazanchi, Michael Fanton, Christopher DeBoer, Samuel C. Linton, Suhail Zeineddin, J. Benjamin Pitt, Megan Bouchard, Angie Figueroa, Soyang Kwon, Jane L. Holl, Arun Jayaraman, Fizan Abdullah*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


When children are discharged from the hospital after surgery, their caregivers often rely on subjective assessments (e.g., appetite, fatigue) to monitor postoperative recovery as objective assessment tools are scarce at home. Such imprecise and one-dimensional evaluations can result in unwarranted emergency department visits or delayed care. To address this gap in postoperative monitoring, we evaluated the ability of a consumer-grade wearable device, Fitbit, which records multimodal data about daily physical activity, heart rate, and sleep, in detecting abnormal recovery early in children recovering after appendectomy. One hundred and sixty-two children, ages 3–17 years old, who underwent an appendectomy (86 complicated and 76 simple cases of appendicitis) wore a Fitbit device on their wrist for 21 days postoperatively. Abnormal recovery events (i.e., abnormal symptoms or confirmed postoperative complications) that arose during this period were gathered from medical records and patient reports. Fitbit-derived measures, as well as demographic and clinical characteristics, were used to train machine learning models to retrospectively detect abnormal recovery in the two days leading up to the event for patients with complicated and simple appendicitis. A balanced random forest classifier accurately detected 83% of these abnormal recovery days in complicated appendicitis and 70% of abnormal recovery days in simple appendicitis prior to the true report of a symptom/complication. These results support the development of machine learning algorithms to predict onset of abnormal symptoms and complications in children undergoing surgery, and the use of consumer wearables as monitoring tools for early detection of postoperative events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number148
Journalnpj Digital Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Information Management
  • Health Informatics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications


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