Purpose: Automatic segmentation and classification of surgical activity is crucial for providing advanced support in computer-assisted interventions and autonomous functionalities in robot-assisted surgeries. Prior works have focused on recognizing either coarse activities, such as phases, or fine-grained activities, such as gestures. This work aims at jointly recognizing two complementary levels of granularity directly from videos, namely phases and steps. Methods: We introduce two correlated surgical activities, phases and steps, for the laparoscopic gastric bypass procedure. We propose a multi-task multi-stage temporal convolutional network (MTMS-TCN) along with a multi-task convolutional neural network (CNN) training setup to jointly predict the phases and steps and benefit from their complementarity to better evaluate the execution of the procedure. We evaluate the proposed method on a large video dataset consisting of 40 surgical procedures (Bypass40). Results: We present experimental results from several baseline models for both phase and step recognition on the Bypass40. The proposed MTMS-TCN method outperforms single-task methods in both phase and step recognition by 1-2% in accuracy, precision and recall. Furthermore, for step recognition, MTMS-TCN achieves a superior performance of 3-6% compared to LSTM-based models on all metrics. Conclusion: In this work, we present a multi-task multi-stage temporal convolutional network for surgical activity recognition, which shows improved results compared to single-task models on a gastric bypass dataset with multi-level annotations. The proposed method shows that the joint modeling of phases and steps is beneficial to improve the overall recognition of each type of activity.
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