Utilization of artificial intelligence in minimally invasive right adrenalectomy: recognition of anatomical landmarks with deep learning

Berke Sengun*, Yalin Iscan, Ziya Ata Yazici, Ismail Cem Sormaz, Nihat Aksakal, Fatih Tunca, Hazim Kemal Ekenel, Yasemin Giles Senyurek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The primary surgical approach for removing adrenal masses is minimally invasive adrenalectomy. Recognition of anatomical landmarks during surgery is critical for minimizing complications. Artificial intelligence-based tools can be utilized to create real-time navigation systems during laparoscopic and robotic right adrenalectomy. In this study, we aimed to develop deep learning models that can identify critical anatomical structures during minimally invasive right adrenalectomy. Methods: In this experimental feasibility study, intraoperative videos of 20 patients who underwent minimally invasive right adrenalectomy in a tertiary care center between 2011 and 2023 were analyzed and used to develop an artificial intelligence-based anatomical landmark recognition system. Semantic segmentation of the liver, the inferior vena cava (IVC), and the right adrenal gland were performed. Fifty random images per patient during the dissection phase were extracted from videos. The experiments on the annotated images were performed on two state-of-the-art segmentation models named SwinUNETR and MedNeXt, which are transformer and convolutional neural network (CNN)-based segmentation architectures, respectively. Two loss function combinations, Dice-Cross Entropy and Dice-Focal Loss were experimented with for both of the models. The dataset was split into training and validation subsets with an 80:20 distribution on a patient basis in a 5-fold cross-validation approach. To introduce a sample variability to the dataset, strong-augmentation techniques were performed using intensity modifications and perspective transformations to represent different surgery environment scenarios. The models were evaluated by Dice Similarity Coefficient (DSC) and Intersection over Union (IoU) which are widely used segmentation metrics. For pixelwise classification performance, accuracy, sensitivity and specificity metrics were calculated on the validation subset. Results: Out of 20 videos, 1000 images were extracted, and the anatomical landmarks (liver, IVC, and right adrenal gland) were annotated. Randomly distributed 800 images and 200 images were selected for the training and validation subsets, respectively. Our benchmark results show that the utilization of Dice-Cross Entropy Loss with the transformer-based SwinUNETR model achieved 78.37%, whereas the CNN-based MedNeXt model reached a 77.09% mDSC score. Conversely, MedNeXt reaches a higher mIoU score of 63.71% than SwinUNETR by 62.10% on a three-region prediction task. Conclusion: Artificial intelligence-based systems can predict anatomical landmarks with high performance in minimally invasive right adrenalectomy. Such tools can later be used to create real-time navigation systems during surgery in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Chirurgica Belgica
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Royal Belgian Society for Surgery.


  • adrenal surgery
  • Artificial intelligence
  • deep learning
  • minimally invasive


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