Combined 2D and 3D tracking of surgical instruments for minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgery

Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2016 Jun;11(6):1109-19. doi: 10.1007/s11548-016-1393-4. Epub 2016 Apr 2.


Purpose: Computer-assisted interventions for enhanced minimally invasive surgery (MIS) require tracking of the surgical instruments. Instrument tracking is a challenging problem in both conventional and robotic-assisted MIS, but vision-based approaches are a promising solution with minimal hardware integration requirements. However, vision-based methods suffer from drift, and in the case of occlusions, shadows and fast motion, they can be subject to complete tracking failure.

Methods: In this paper, we develop a 2D tracker based on a Generalized Hough Transform using SIFT features which can both handle complex environmental changes and recover from tracking failure. We use this to initialize a 3D tracker at each frame which enables us to recover 3D instrument pose over long sequences and even during occlusions.

Results: We quantitatively validate our method in 2D and 3D with ex vivo data collected from a DVRK controller as well as providing qualitative validation on robotic-assisted in vivo data.

Conclusions: We demonstrate from our extended sequences that our method provides drift-free robust and accurate tracking. Our occlusion-based sequences additionally demonstrate that our method can recover from occlusion-based failure. In both cases, we show an improvement over using 3D tracking alone suggesting that combining 2D and 3D tracking is a promising solution to challenges in surgical instrument tracking.

Keywords: Instrument tracking and detection; Minimally invasive surgery; Robot-assisted surgery; Surgical vision.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / instrumentation
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Motion
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures / instrumentation
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Surgical Instruments