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An Accessible Laparoscope for Surgery in Low- and Middle- Income Countries


Laparoscopic surgery is the standard of care in high-income countries for many procedures in the chest and abdomen. It avoids large incisions by using a tiny camera and fine instruments manipulated through keyhole incisions, but it is generally unavailable in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) due to the high cost of installment, lack of qualified maintenance personnel, unreliable electricity, and shortage of consumable items. Patients in LMICs would benefit from laparoscopic surgery, as advantages include decreased pain, improved recovery time, fewer wound infections, and shorter hospital stays. To address this need, we developed an accessible laparoscopic system, called the ReadyView laparoscope for use in LMICs. The device includes an integrated camera and LED light source that can be displayed on any monitor. The ReadyView laparoscope was evaluated with standard optical imaging targets to determine its performance against a state-of-the-art commercial laparoscope. The ReadyView laparoscope has a comparable resolving power, lens distortion, field of view, depth of field, and color reproduction accuracy to a commercially available endoscope, particularly at shorter, commonly-used working distances (3-5 cm). Additionally, the ReadyView has a cooler temperature profile, decreasing the risk for tissue injury and operating room fires. The ReadyView features a waterproof design, enabling sterilization by submersion, as commonly performed in LMICs. A custom desktop software was developed to view the video on a laptop computer with a frame rate greater than 30 frames per second and to white balance the image, which is critical for clinical use. The ReadyView laparoscope is capable of providing the image quality and overall performance needed for laparoscopic surgery. This portable low-cost system is well suited to increase access to laparoscopic surgery in LMICs.

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This work was supported by a Bass Connections grant at Duke University and a Duke/Duke-NUS pilot project grant. JLM and NM work with the Calla Health Foundation.

Author information




NR and JLM performed device development and testing, and drafting of the manuscript. EDS, CS, AB, BK, AG, SK, and MB all assisted in device development and testing. JLM, NR, and TNF created the project, obtained project funding and drafted the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tamara N. Fitzgerald.

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JLM, AG and TNF have a patents pending related to this work. NR, EDS, CS, AB, BK, SK, and MB have nothing to disclose.

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Mueller, J.L., Rozman, N., Sunassee, E.D. et al. An Accessible Laparoscope for Surgery in Low- and Middle- Income Countries. Ann Biomed Eng 49, 1657–1669 (2021).

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  • Biomedical devices
  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Global surgery