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Theatres without borders: a systematic review of the use of intraoperative telemedicine in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)


Objective This systematic review aims to provide a summary of the use of real-time telementoring, telesurgical consultation and telesurgery in surgical procedures in patients in low/middle-income countries (LMICs).

Design A systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement and the Cochrane Collaboration published guidelines.

Data sources EMBASE, MEDLINE, Cochrane, PubMed and Google Scholar were searched for original articles and case reports that discussed telementoring, telesurgery or telesurgical consultation in countries defined as low-income or middle-income (as per the World Banks’s 2021–2022 classifications) from inception to August 2021.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies All original articles and case reports were included if they reported the use of telemedicine, telesurgery or telesurgical consultation in procedures conducted on patients in LMICs.

Results There were 12 studies which discussed the use of telementoring in 55 patients in LMICs and included a variety of surgical specialities. There was one study that discussed the use of telesurgical consultation in 15 patients in LMICs and one study that discussed the use of telesurgery in one patient.

Conclusion The presence of intraoperative telemedicine in LMICs represents a principal move towards improving access to specialist surgical care for patients in resource-poor settings. Not only do several studies demonstrate that it facilitates training and educational opportunities, but it remains a relatively frugal and efficient method of doing so, through empowering local surgeons in LMICs towards offering optimal care while remaining in their respective communities.

  • public health
  • surgical procedures
  • operative
  • healthcare quality
  • access and evaluation

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data are available upon reasonable request to the corresponding authour (A.AR).

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