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arxiv preprint

Automatic surgical gesture recognition is fundamental for improving intelligence in robot-assisted surgery, such as conducting complicated tasks of surgery surveillance and skill evaluation. However, current methods treat each frame individually and produce the outcomes without effective consideration on future information. In this paper, we propose a framework based on reinforcement learning and tree search for joint surgical gesture segmentation and classification. An agent is trained to segment and classify the surgical video in a human-like manner whose direct decisions are re-considered by tree search appropriately. Our proposed tree search algorithm unites the outputs from two designed neural networks, i.e., policy and value network. With the integration of complementary information from distinct models, our framework is able to achieve the better performance than baseline methods using either of the neural networks. For an overall evaluation, our developed approach consistently outperforms the existing methods on the suturing task of JIGSAWS dataset in terms of accuracy, edit score and F1 score. Our study highlights the utilization of tree search to refine actions in reinforcement learning framework for surgical robotic applications.

Xiaojie Gao, Yueming Jin, Qi Dou, Pheng-Ann Heng