Machine learning applications in upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery: a systematic review

Mustafa Bektaş, George L. Burchell, H. Jaap Bonjer, Donald L. van der Peet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Machine learning (ML) has seen an increase in application, and is an important element of a digital evolution. The role of ML within upper gastrointestinal surgery for malignancies has not been evaluated properly in the literature. Therefore, this systematic review aims to provide a comprehensive overview of ML applications within upper gastrointestinal surgery for malignancies. Methods: A systematic search was performed in PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane, and Web of Science. Studies were only included when they described machine learning in upper gastrointestinal surgery for malignancies. The Cochrane risk-of-bias tool was used to determine the methodological quality of studies. The accuracy and area under the curve were evaluated, representing the predictive performances of ML models. Results: From a total of 1821 articles, 27 studies met the inclusion criteria. Most studies received a moderate risk-of-bias score. The majority of these studies focused on neural networks (n = 9), multiple machine learning (n = 8), and random forests (n = 3). Remaining studies involved radiomics (n = 3), support vector machines (n = 3), and decision trees (n = 1). Purposes of ML included predominantly prediction of metastasis, detection of risk factors, prediction of survival, and prediction of postoperative complications. Other purposes were predictions of TNM staging, chemotherapy response, tumor resectability, and optimal therapy. Conclusions: Machine Learning algorithms seem to contribute to the prediction of postoperative complications and the course of disease after upper gastrointestinal surgery for malignancies. However, due to the retrospective character of ML studies, these results require trials or prospective studies to validate this application of ML. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-89
Number of pages15
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number1
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Esophagectomy
  • Gastrectomy
  • Machine learning
  • Upper gastrointestinal malignancies

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