Objective Assessment of Surgical Technical Skill and Competency in the Operating Room

S. Swaroop Vedula, Masaru Ishii, Gregory D. Hager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Training skillful and competent surgeons is critical to ensure high quality of care and to minimize disparities in access to effective care. Traditional models to train surgeons are being challenged by rapid advances in technology, an intensified patient-safety culture, and a need for value-driven health systems. Simultaneously, technological developments are enabling capture and analysis of large amounts of complex surgical data. These developments are motivating a "surgical data science" approach to objective computer-aided technical skill evaluation (OCASE-T) for scalable, accurate assessment; individualized feedback; and automated coaching. We define the problem space for OCASE-T and summarize 45 publications representing recent research in this domain. We find that most studies on OCASE-T are simulation based; very few are in the operating room. The algorithms and validation methodologies used for OCASE-T are highly varied; there is no uniform consensus. Future research should emphasize competency assessment in the operating room, validation against patient outcomes, and effectiveness for surgical training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-325
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Biomedical Engineering
StatePublished - Jun 21 2017


  • Objective computer-aided surgical skill evaluation
  • Objective skill assessment
  • Surgical data science
  • Surgical technical competence
  • Surgical technical skill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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