Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Surgical Fields

Melissa Egert, James E. Steward, Chandru P. Sundaram

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have the potential to improve multiple facets of medical practice, including diagnosis of disease, surgical training, clinical outcomes, and access to healthcare. There have been various applications of this technology to surgical fields. AI and ML have been used to evaluate a surgeon’s technical skill. These technologies can detect instrument motion, recognize patterns in video recordings, and track the physical motion, eye movements, and cognitive function of the surgeon. These modalities also aid in the advancement of robotic surgical training. The da Vinci Standard Surgical System developed a recording and playback system to help trainees receive tactical feedback to acquire more precision when operating. ML has shown promise in recognizing and classifying complex patterns on diagnostic images and within pathologic tissue analysis. This allows for more accurate and efficient diagnosis and treatment. Artificial neural networks are able to analyze sets of symptoms in conjunction with labs, imaging, and exam findings to determine the likelihood of a diagnosis or outcome. Telemedicine is another use of ML and AI that uses technology such as voice recognition to deliver health care remotely. Limitations include the need for large data sets to program computers to create the algorithms. There is also the potential for misclassification of data points that do not follow the typical patterns learned by the machine. As more applications of AI and ML are developed for the surgical field, further studies are needed to determine feasibility, efficacy, and cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIndian Journal of Surgical Oncology
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Artificial neural networks
  • Machine learning (ML)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology

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