Artificial neural networks in diagnosis of thyroid function from in vitro laboratory tests

P. K. Sharpe*, H. E. Solberg, K. Rootwelt, M. Yearworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


We studied the potential benefit of using artificial neural networks (ANNs) for the diagnosis of thyroid function. We examined two types of ANN architecture and assessed their robustness in the face of diagnostic noise. The thyroid function data we used had previously been studied by multivariate statistical methods and a variety of pattern-recognition techniques. The total data set comprised 392 cases that had been classified according to both thyroid function and 19 clinical categories. All cases had a complete set of results of six laboratory tests (total thyroxine, free thyroxine, triiodothyronine, triiodothyronine uptake test, thyrotropin, and thyroxine- binding globulin). This data set was divided into subsets used for training the networks and for testing their performance; the test subsets contained various proportions of cases with diagnostic noise to mimic real-life diagnostic situations. The networks studied were a multilayer perception trained by back-propagation, and a learning vector quantization network. The training data subsets were selected according to two strategies: either training data based on cases with extreme values for the laboratory tests with randomly selected nonextreme cases added, or training cases from very pure functional groups. Both network architectures were efficient irrespective of the type of training data. The correct allocation of cases in test data subsets was 96.4-99.7% when extreme values were used for training and 92.7-98.8% when only pure cases were used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2248-2253
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Chemistry
Issue number11 I
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1993


  • back-propagation
  • diagnostic noise
  • learning vector quantization


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