In surgical computer vision applications, obtaining labeled training data is challenging due to data-privacy concerns and the need for expert annotation. Unpaired image-to-image translation techniques have been explored to automatically generate large annotated datasets by translating synthetic images to the realistic domain. However, preserving the structure and semantic consistency between the input and translated images presents significant challenges, mainly when there is a distributional mismatch in the semantic characteristics of the domains. This study empirically investigates unpaired image translation methods for generating suitable data in surgical applications, explicitly focusing on semantic consistency. We extensively evaluate various state-of-the-art image translation models on two challenging surgical datasets and downstream semantic segmentation tasks. We find that a simple combination of structural-similarity loss and contrastive learning yields the most promising results. Quantitatively, we show that the data generated with this approach yields higher semantic consistency and can be used more effectively as training data.
Research in unpaired video translation has mainly focused on short-term temporal consistency by conditioning on neighboring frames. However for transfer from simulated to photorealistic sequences, available information on the underlying geometry offers potential for achieving global consistency across views. We propose a novel approach which combines unpaired image translation with neural rendering to transfer simulated to photorealistic surgical abdominal scenes. By introducing global learnable textures and a lighting-invariant view-consistency loss, our method produces consistent translations of arbitrary views and thus enables long-term consistent video synthesis. We design and test our model to generate video sequences from minimally-invasive surgical abdominal scenes. Because labeled data is often limited in this domain, photorealistic data where ground truth information from the simulated domain is preserved is especially relevant. By extending existing image-based methods to view-consistent videos, we aim to impact the applicability of simulated training and evaluation environments for surgical applications. Code and data will be made publicly available soon.