Semantic segmentation in surgical videos has applications in intra-operative guidance, post-operative analytics and surgical education. Segmentation models need to provide accurate and consistent predictions since temporally inconsistent identification of anatomical structures can impair usability and hinder patient safety. Video information can alleviate these challenges leading to reliable models suitable for clinical use. We propose a novel architecture for modelling temporal relationships in videos. The proposed model includes a spatio-temporal decoder to enable video semantic segmentation by improving temporal consistency across frames. The encoder processes individual frames whilst the decoder processes a temporal batch of adjacent frames. The proposed decoder can be used on top of any segmentation encoder to improve temporal consistency. Model performance was evaluated on the CholecSeg8k dataset and a private dataset of robotic Partial Nephrectomy procedures. Segmentation performance was improved when the temporal decoder was applied across both datasets. The proposed model also displayed improvements in temporal consistency.
International benchmarking competitions have become fundamental for the comparative performance assessment of image analysis methods. However, little attention has been given to investigating what can be learnt from these competitions. Do they really generate scientific progress? What are common and successful participation strategies? What makes a solution superior to a competing method? To address this gap in the literature, we performed a multi-center study with all 80 competitions that were conducted in the scope of IEEE ISBI 2021 and MICCAI 2021. Statistical analyses performed based on comprehensive descriptions of the submitted algorithms linked to their rank as well as the underlying participation strategies revealed common characteristics of winning solutions. These typically include the use of multi-task learning (63%) and/or multi-stage pipelines (61%), and a focus on augmentation (100%), image preprocessing (97%), data curation (79%), and postprocessing (66%). The "typical" lead of a winning team is a computer scientist with a doctoral degree, five years of experience in biomedical image analysis, and four years of experience in deep learning. Two core general development strategies stood out for highly-ranked teams: the reflection of the metrics in the method design and the focus on analyzing and handling failure cases. According to the organizers, 43% of the winning algorithms exceeded the state of the art but only 11% completely solved the respective domain problem. The insights of our study could help researchers (1) improve algorithm development strategies when approaching new problems, and (2) focus on open research questions revealed by this work.
The number of international benchmarking competitions is steadily increasing in various fields of machine learning (ML) research and practice. So far, however, little is known about the common practice as well as bottlenecks faced by the community in tackling the research questions posed. To shed light on the status quo of algorithm development in the specific field of biomedical imaging analysis, we designed an international survey that was issued to all participants of challenges conducted in conjunction with the IEEE ISBI 2021 and MICCAI 2021 conferences (80 competitions in total). The survey covered participants' expertise and working environments, their chosen strategies, as well as algorithm characteristics. A median of 72% challenge participants took part in the survey. According to our results, knowledge exchange was the primary incentive (70%) for participation, while the reception of prize money played only a minor role (16%). While a median of 80 working hours was spent on method development, a large portion of participants stated that they did not have enough time for method development (32%). 25% perceived the infrastructure to be a bottleneck. Overall, 94% of all solutions were deep learning-based. Of these, 84% were based on standard architectures. 43% of the respondents reported that the data samples (e.g., images) were too large to be processed at once. This was most commonly addressed by patch-based training (69%), downsampling (37%), and solving 3D analysis tasks as a series of 2D tasks. K-fold cross-validation on the training set was performed by only 37% of the participants and only 50% of the participants performed ensembling based on multiple identical models (61%) or heterogeneous models (39%). 48% of the respondents applied postprocessing steps.
Surgical scene segmentation is essential for anatomy and instrument localization which can be further used to assess tissue-instrument interactions during a surgical procedure. In 2017, the Challenge on Automatic Tool Annotation for cataRACT Surgery (CATARACTS) released 50 cataract surgery videos accompanied by instrument usage annotations. These annotations included frame-level instrument presence information. In 2020, we released pixel-wise semantic annotations for anatomy and instruments for 4670 images sampled from 25 videos of the CATARACTS training set. The 2020 CATARACTS Semantic Segmentation Challenge, which was a sub-challenge of the 2020 MICCAI Endoscopic Vision (EndoVis) Challenge, presented three sub-tasks to assess participating solutions on anatomical structure and instrument segmentation. Their performance was assessed on a hidden test set of 531 images from 10 videos of the CATARACTS test set.