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The History of Laparoscopic General Surgery in the Caribbean



Objective: The first world witnessed a laparoscopic revolution in the 1990s. At the start, laparoscopic surgery was heavily criticized and ridiculed. Despite this, the specialty has blossomed where almost any procedure can be done laparoscopically with the now obvious tremendous benefit to the patients. The objective of this paper is to examine where the Caribbean is placed relative to the rest of the world in terms of laparoscopic surgery and to understand why we are here.

Design and Methods: The literature written on laparoscopy in the region was reviewed and contributions were taken from key surgeons in three main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica.

Results: Though the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the Caribbean, in most islands, took place in the early 1990s like the rest of the world, there was relative dormancy for at least a decade in Trinidad and Tobago and even longer in other islands with regards to implementing advanced procedures or increasing case volumes. Reasons for this included lack of funding, lack of operating time in public facilities, lack of information of the public and the medical fraternity but most importantly lack of trained laparoscopic surgeons. This last factor was proven to be the key one in Trinidad and Tobago in 2003, Jamaica 2005 and Barbados 2011/12, when the return of trained personel engineered the transition from basic to advanced laparoscopy.

Conclusion: Despite the delay of approximately 10 years in Trinidad and Tobago and 15 years in other islands, the return of trained surgeons has seen a rapid increase in case variety and volumes in laparoscopy. The wheels of motion of the laparoscopic revolution in the Caribbean have finally begun.

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e-Published: 21 Aug, 2013
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