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Code-free machine learning for object detection in surgical video: a benchmarking, feasibility, and cost study

Vyom Unadkat, Dhiraj J. Pangal, Guillaume Kugener, Arman Roshannai, Justin Chan, Yichao Zhu, Nicholas Markarian, Gabriel Zada, and Daniel A. Donoho

OBJECTIVE

While the utilization of machine learning (ML) for data analysis typically requires significant technical expertise, novel platforms can deploy ML methods without requiring the user to have any coding experience (termed AutoML). The potential for these methods to be applied to neurosurgical video and surgical data science is unknown.

METHODS

AutoML, a code-free ML (CFML) system, was used to identify surgical instruments contained within each frame of endoscopic, endonasal intraoperative video obtained from a previously validated internal carotid injury training exercise performed on a high-fidelity cadaver model. Instrument-detection performances using CFML were compared with two state-of-the-art ML models built using the Python coding language on the same intraoperative video data set.

RESULTS

The CFML system successfully ingested surgical video without the use of any code. A total of 31,443 images were used to develop this model; 27,223 images were uploaded for training, 2292 images for validation, and 1928 images for testing. The mean average precision on the test set across all instruments was 0.708. The CFML model outperformed two standard object detection networks, RetinaNet and YOLOv3, which had mean average precisions of 0.669 and 0.527, respectively, in analyzing the same data set. Significant advantages to the CFML system included ease of use, relatively low cost, displays of true/false positives and negatives in a user-friendly interface, and the ability to deploy models for further analysis with ease. Significant drawbacks of the CFML model included an inability to view the structure of the trained model, an inability to update the ML model once trained with new examples, and the inability for robust downstream analysis of model performance and error modes.

CONCLUSIONS

This first report describes the baseline performance of CFML in an object detection task using a publicly available surgical video data set as a test bed. Compared with standard, code-based object detection networks, CFML exceeded performance standards. This finding is encouraging for surgeon-scientists seeking to perform object detection tasks to answer clinical questions, perform quality improvement, and develop novel research ideas. The limited interpretability and customization of CFML models remain ongoing challenges. With the further development of code-free platforms, CFML will become increasingly important across biomedical research. Using CFML, surgeons without significant coding experience can perform exploratory ML analyses rapidly and efficiently.

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Robotic and robot-assisted skull base neurosurgery: systematic review of current applications and future directions

Dhiraj J. Pangal, David J. Cote, Jacob Ruzevick, Benjamin Yarovinsky, Guillaume Kugener, Bozena Wrobel, Elisabeth H. Ference, Mark Swanson, Andrew J. Hung, Daniel A. Donoho, Steven Giannotta, and Gabriel Zada

OBJECTIVE

The utility of robotic instrumentation is expanding in neurosurgery. Despite this, successful examples of robotic implementation for endoscopic endonasal or skull base neurosurgery remain limited. Therefore, the authors performed a systematic review of the literature to identify all articles that used robotic systems to access the sella or anterior, middle, or posterior cranial fossae.

METHODS

A systematic review of MEDLINE and PubMed in accordance with PRISMA guidelines performed for articles published between January 1, 1990, and August 1, 2021, was conducted to identify all robotic systems (autonomous, semiautonomous, or surgeon-controlled) used for skull base neurosurgical procedures. Cadaveric and human clinical studies were included. Studies with exclusively otorhinolaryngological applications or using robotic microscopes were excluded.

RESULTS

A total of 561 studies were identified from the initial search, of which 22 were included following full-text review. Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) using the da Vinci Surgical System was the most widely reported system (4 studies) utilized for skull base and pituitary fossa procedures; additionally, it has been reported for resection of sellar masses in 4 patients. Seven cadaveric studies used the da Vinci Surgical System to access the skull base using alternative, non–TORS approaches (e.g., transnasal, transmaxillary, and supraorbital). Five cadaveric studies investigated alternative systems to access the skull base. Six studies investigated the use of robotic endoscope holders. Advantages to robotic applications in skull base neurosurgery included improved lighting and 3D visualization, replication of more traditional gesture-based movements, and the ability for dexterous movements ordinarily constrained by small operative corridors. Limitations included the size and angulation capacity of the robot, lack of drilling components preventing fully robotic procedures, and cost. Robotic endoscope holders may have been particularly advantageous when the use of a surgical assistant or second surgeon was limited.

CONCLUSIONS

Robotic skull base neurosurgery has been growing in popularity and feasibility, but significant limitations remain. While robotic systems seem to have allowed for greater maneuverability and 3D visualization, their size and lack of neurosurgery-specific tools have continued to prevent widespread adoption into current practice. The next generation of robotic technologies should prioritize overcoming these limitations.

Free access

A systematic review of virtual reality for the assessment of technical skills in neurosurgery

Justin Chan, Dhiraj J. Pangal, Tyler Cardinal, Guillaume Kugener, Yichao Zhu, Arman Roshannai, Nicholas Markarian, Aditya Sinha, Anima Anandkumar, Andrew Hung, Gabriel Zada, and Daniel A. Donoho

OBJECTIVE

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems are increasingly available to neurosurgeons. These systems may provide opportunities for technical rehearsal and assessments of surgeon performance. The assessment of neurosurgeon skill in VR and AR environments and the validity of VR and AR feedback has not been systematically reviewed.

METHODS

A systematic review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines was conducted through MEDLINE and PubMed. Studies published in English between January 1990 and February 2021 describing the use of VR or AR to quantify surgical technical performance of neurosurgeons without the use of human raters were included. The types and categories of automated performance metrics (APMs) from each of these studies were recorded.

RESULTS

Thirty-three VR studies were included in the review; no AR studies met inclusion criteria. VR APMs were categorized as either distance to target, force, kinematics, time, blood loss, or volume of resection. Distance and time were the most well-studied APM domains, although all domains were effective at differentiating surgeon experience levels. Distance was successfully used to track improvements with practice. Examining volume of resection demonstrated that attending surgeons removed less simulated tumor but preserved more normal tissue than trainees. More recently, APMs have been used in machine learning algorithms to predict level of training with a high degree of accuracy. Key limitations to enhanced-reality systems include limited AR usage for automated surgical assessment and lack of external and longitudinal validation of VR systems.

CONCLUSIONS

VR has been used to assess surgeon performance across a wide spectrum of domains. The VR environment can be used to quantify surgeon performance, assess surgeon proficiency, and track training progression. AR systems have not yet been used to provide metrics for surgeon performance assessment despite potential for intraoperative integration. VR-based APMs may be especially useful for metrics that are difficult to assess intraoperatively, including blood loss and extent of resection.