Lifebox Light

Lifebox estimates that every year 24 million patients are at risk from inadequate or unreliable lighting during surgery. We also calculate that over 400,000 surgeons (including general surgeons, obstetricians, and other specialists) are working in health facilities with lighting constraints.

Lifebox is working on a solution: a durable, affordable, high-quality surgical headlamp for use in these settings.

We are excited to announce a new project: “The Lifebox Light.”

A December 2019 publication by Dr. Thomas Weiser in Surgeons’ News from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh regarding the Lifebox Light can be found here.

The lighting gap

Surgeons at a national hospital in Ethiopia use a cell phone light to complete an operation. Photo CC BY-SA 4.0 Lifebox

In a recent survey of surgeons working in low or middle-income countries, 48% indicated their facility experienced frequent power outages (Forrester et al. 2017). Even in facilities with a functioning backup generator, there is a lighting gap when switching from mains to generator power. One surgeon shared his story of working at a busy hospital in Ethiopia:

“During a surgery to remove esophageal cancer, once the patient was asleep and the belly was open, the power went out. People quickly pulled out cellphones but the operation was on hold. Power returned, but, over the course of the case, the power went out another 3 times.”

Power outages are dangerous for operating room staff and even more so for patients undergoing surgery who can face complications or even death.

Faulty and unusable equipment is a major challenge in low-resource settings. Estimates indicate that 40%-96% of medical equipment is damaged or otherwise out of service (Perry & Malkin 2011).

A surgical team in Rwanda performs a cesarean section, one of the most common operations performed in LMICs. Photo CC BY-SA 4.0 Lifebox

There are many operating theaters in low and middle-income countries where no surgical lighting is available.

Cesarean delivery is the single most common major operation worldwide. It is performed at a wide variety of facilities by both trained surgeons and mid-level clinical officers. Many facilities, particularly poorly resourced ones, depend on ambient light from windows or assistants holding flashlights or mobile phones to illuminate the surgical field. This is a makeshift solution that may not provide the intensity of lighting needed for safety, diverts scarce operating room staff from other important work, and may introduce infection into the wound.

Our objective

Our aim is simple – to save lives, avoid cancellations of essential and emergency surgery due to lighting problems, prevent unnecessary deaths from unsafe surgery and to empower surgical teams in low-resource countries with a robust, low-cost headlight to be used during operations.

We have published specifications for the Lifebox Light here.