The effect of color-contrasting shadows on a dynamic 3-D laparoscopic surgical task

Ryan T. Shimotsu, Caroline G.L. Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Laparoscopic surgery is performed using long instruments that enter the abdomen through small incisions while viewing the workspace on a video monitor. Because of the viewing limitations that are inherent in the imaging system, depth perception is severely limited compared to direct viewing in open surgery. Previous studies have demonstrated that the addition of shadows can improve performance in tasks under laparoscopic conditions. This study examined the effect of color-contrasting shadows on performance in a depth-perception-dependent laparoscopic task. It was hypothesized that the added contrast of colored shadows would make them more pronounced on the dark-red background found in the body, thus improving performance. Twenty-four novice participants performed a dynamic pick-and-place task under three different lighting conditions on two differently colored backgrounds. Results showed that the presence of both colored and black shadows improved performance by 10% compared to no shadows, but the colored shadows did not provide a significant advantage over the black shadows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1047-1053
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Part A:Systems and Humans
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Simulation
  • Surgery
  • Visual perception
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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