The history of machine learning in neurosurgery spans three decades and continues to develop at a rapid pace. The earliest applications of machine learning within neurosurgery were first published in the 1990s as researchers began developing artificial neural networks to analyze structured datasets and supervised tasks. By the turn of the millennium, machine learning had evolved beyond proof-of-concept; algorithms had success detecting tumors in unstructured clinical imaging, and unsupervised learning showed promise for tumor segmentation. Throughout the 2000s, the role of machine learning in neurosurgery was further refined. Well-trained models began to consistently best expert clinicians at brain tumor diagnosis. Additionally, the digitization of the healthcare industry provided ample data for analysis, both structured and unstructured. By the 2010s, the use of machine learning within neurosurgery had exploded. The rapid deployment of an exciting new toolset also led to the growing realization that it may offer marginal benefit at best over conventional logistical regression models for analyzing tabular datasets. Additionally, the widespread adoption of machine learning in neurosurgical clinical practice continues to lag until additional validation can ensure generalizability. Many exciting contemporary applications nonetheless continue to demonstrate the unprecedented potential of machine learning to revolutionize neurosurgery when applied to appropriate clinical challenges.
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