A team of computer science students is working to improve the way Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center keeps tabs on critical surgical equipment. Their actions will help keep costs down while making surgery safer.
“We are making a vision-tracking system for surgical tray equipment so that we can take a tray of equipment, scan it, and categorize everything on the tray so the system detects if anything goes missing or is brought back in excess,” said senior Alec Maier, a member of the capstone design team that is working on the project. “This should reduce the likelihood that items become lost during surgeries or between the operating room and the sterile processing department of the hospital.”
Together with seniors James Miller and Chris Attar, the computer science majors are working to create code, hardware, and software, and utilize computer vision to make the project a reality. Their work highlights the spirit of Computer Science Education Week, which is celebrated Dec. 9-15.
When good instrument tracking procedures are not in place, pricey surgical tools can be misplaced, thrown away, and even left behind. Studies have shown that of the more than 28 million operations performed in the United States each year, there are about 1,500 cases of foreign bodies being left behind after surgery.
The team’s project should reduce this risk.
When complete, the system will compare the image of a surgical tray with catalogued images of the hospital’s equipment. It will be able to tell users whether all instruments present at the start of surgery are also there after surgery, regardless of their position on the tray.
“It’s basically comparing all the features of an object, and once it finds those features, it doesn’t matter the scale or the rotation – it should detect them,” Maier said.
Miller, from Wauchula, Florida, said he is enjoying the opportunity to work on the project.
“I was always worried about what it would be like to be dropped into a project like this, and it’s great to be able to do it with a little help from a professor,” he said.
Dr. Doga Demirel, an assistant professor of computer science at Florida Polytechnic University, is guiding the students through the project. It will be among those showcased this spring at the annual Capstone Design Showcase.
“My role is to make sure they understand what they need to do and have a clear communication path with the sponsor and within the group as well,” Demirel said. “I want them to learn how to work as a team and how to communicate in a team because once they graduate and go into industry, they will need to work in a team.”
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