SegMatch: A semi-supervised learning method for surgical instrument segmentation

Surgical instrument segmentation is recognised as a key enabler to provide advanced surgical assistance and improve computer assisted interventions. In this work, we propose SegMatch, a semi supervised learning method to reduce the need for expensive annotation for laparoscopic and robotic surgical images. SegMatch builds on FixMatch, a widespread semi supervised classification pipeline combining consistency regularization and pseudo labelling, and adapts it for the purpose of segmentation. In our proposed SegMatch, the unlabelled images are weakly augmented and fed into the segmentation model to generate a pseudo-label to enforce the unsupervised loss against the output of the model for the adversarial augmented image on the pixels with a high confidence score. Our adaptation for segmentation tasks includes carefully considering the equivariance and invariance properties of the augmentation functions we rely on. To increase the relevance of our augmentations, we depart from using only handcrafted augmentations and introduce a trainable adversarial augmentation strategy. Our algorithm was evaluated on the MICCAI Instrument Segmentation Challenge datasets Robust-MIS 2019 and EndoVis 2017. Our results demonstrate that adding unlabelled data for training purposes allows us to surpass the performance of fully supervised approaches which are limited by the availability of training data in these challenges. SegMatch also outperforms a range of state-of-the-art semi-supervised learning semantic segmentation models in different labelled to unlabelled data ratios.

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