Breaking down the silos of artificial intelligence in surgery: glossary of terms

Andrea Moglia (Lead / Corresponding author), Konstantinos Georgiou, Luca Morelli, Konstantinos Toutouzas, Richard M. Satava, Alfred Cuschieri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The literature on artificial intelligence (AI) in surgery has advanced rapidly during the past few years. However, the published studies on AI are mostly reported by computer scientists using their own jargon which is unfamiliar to surgeons.

Methods: A literature search was conducted in using PubMed following the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) statement. The primary outcome of this review is to provide a glossary with definitions of the commonly used AI terms in surgery to improve their understanding by surgeons.

Results: One hundred ninety-five studies were included in this review, and 38 AI terms related to surgery were retrieved. Convolutional neural networks were the most frequently culled term by the search, accounting for 74 studies on AI in surgery, followed by classification task (n = 62), artificial neural networks (n = 53), and regression (n = 49). Then, the most frequent expressions were supervised learning (reported in 24 articles), support vector machine (SVM) in 21, and logistic regression in 16. The rest of the 38 terms was seldom mentioned.

Conclusions: The proposed glossary can be used by several stakeholders. First and foremost, by residents and attending consultant surgeons, both having to understand the fundamentals of AI when reading such articles. Secondly, junior researchers at the start of their career in Surgical Data Science and thirdly experts working in the regulatory sections of companies involved in the AI Business Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) preparing documents for submission to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other agencies for approval.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7986-7997
Number of pages12
JournalSurgical Endoscopy
Early online date21 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Artificial intelligence surgery
  • Machine learning surgery
  • Deep learning surgery


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