Surgical skill level assessment using automatic feature extraction methods

Marzieh Ershad, Robert V Rege, Ann Majewicz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Objective and automatic evaluation of surgical skill is important for the design of surgical simulators used in surgical robotics training. Extensive research has been done to identify and evaluate a variety of evaluation metrics (e.g., path length, completion time); however, these metrics are only provided to the user after completion of the task, and may not fully use the underlying information in the movement data. This study proposes a method for automatic and objective evaluation of surgical expertise levels, in short time intervals, during task performance. We first compare three different automatic feature extraction methods including: (1) principle component analysis (PCA), (2) independent component analysis (ICA), and (3) linear discriminant analysis (LDA) on low-level position data, in their ability to distinguish among different expertise levels. We then study the performance of the best feature extraction method in different time intervals, for the purpose of finding the minimal time frame that accurately predicts user skill level. 14 subjects of different expertise levels were recruited to perform two simulated tasks on the da Vinci training simulator. The position of the subjects' arm joints (shoulder, elbow and wrist) in the dominant hand, as well as the position of both hands, were recorded. Four classifiers (Naive Bayes, support vector machine, nearest neighbor, and Decision Tree) were used to identify the best feature extraction method. The results indicate that PCA in combination with support vector machine can classify expertise levels with an accuracy of 98% in time frames of 0.25 seconds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedical Imaging 2018
Subtitle of host publicationImage-Guided Procedures, Robotic Interventions, and Modeling
EditorsBaowei Fei, Robert J. Webster
ISBN (Electronic)9781510616417
StatePublished - 2018
EventMedical Imaging 2018: Image-Guided Procedures, Robotic Interventions, and Modeling - Houston, United States
Duration: Feb 12 2018Feb 15 2018

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherMedical Imaging 2018: Image-Guided Procedures, Robotic Interventions, and Modeling
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Automatic Feature Extraction
  • Surgical Skill Assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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