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Multicentre validation of a computer-based tool for differentiation of acute Kawasaki disease from clinically similar febrile illnesses


Background The clinical features of Kawasaki disease (KD) overlap with those of other paediatric febrile illnesses. A missed or delayed diagnosis increases the risk of coronary artery damage. Our computer algorithm for KD and febrile illness differentiation had a sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of 94.8%, 70.8%, 93.7% and 98.3%, respectively, in a single-centre validation study. We sought to determine the performance of this algorithm with febrile children from multiple institutions across the USA.

Methods We used our previously published 18-variable panel that includes illness day, the five KD clinical criteria and readily available laboratory values. We applied this two-step algorithm using a linear discriminant analysis-based clinical model followed by a random forest-based algorithm to a cohort of 1059 acute KD and 282 febrile control patients from five children’s hospitals across the USA.

Results The algorithm correctly classified 970 of 1059 patients with KD and 163 of 282 febrile controls resulting in a sensitivity of 91.6%, specificity of 57.8% and PPV and NPV of 95.4% and 93.1%, respectively. The algorithm also correctly identified 218 of the 232 KD patients (94.0%) with abnormal echocardiograms.

Interpretation The expectation is that the predictive accuracy of the algorithm will be reduced in a real-world setting in which patients with KD are rare and febrile controls are common. However, the results of the current analysis suggest that this algorithm warrants a prospective, multicentre study to evaluate its potential utility as a physician support tool.

  • Kawasaki disease
  • febrile controls
  • algorithm
  • multicenter study

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