Application of the Alpha Shape Method to Visualize and Analyze Surgical Motion

Mohammad R Maddah, Caroline G L Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Simulators play an important role in training surgery residents to perform laparoscopy surgery. Some of these simulators have the capability to track tool motion to assess performance. However, most have not utilized the data to analyze trainee performance in a meaningful way. The alpha shape method can be used to construct a geometric surface based on motion data to enable visualization of the performance, while the surface derivative (surface/time to completion)—efficiency—can be used as a metric to evaluate complex surgical performance. The utility of the alpha shape method was demonstrated in a pick-and-place task, where the motion path of laparoscopic graspers was recorded by a position sensor, miniBIRD 500®. An alpha shape method was used to measure the surface area of the 3D points in space occupied by the tool tips during task performance. Results show that the surface derivative measure alone may be able to model the speed-accuracy tradeoff function, thereby simplifying the analysis and evaluation of complex motion in surgical performance.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-480
JournalSurgical Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Surface
  • Performance Assessment
  • Motion Visualization
  • Alpha Shape


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