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In this paper, we built and tested the port camera, a novel, inexpensive, portable, and battery-powered laparoscopic tool that integrates the components of a vision system with a cannula port. This new device 1) minimizes the invasiveness of laparoscopic surgery by combining a camera port and tool port; 2) reduces the cost of laparoscopic vision systems by integrating an inexpensive CMOS sensor and LED light source; and 3) enhances laparoscopic surgical procedures by mechanically coupling the camera, tool port, and liquid crystal display (LCD) screen to provide an on-patient visual display. The port camera video system was compared to two laparoscopic video systems: a standard resolution unit from Karl Storz (model 22220130) and a high definition unit from Stryker (model 1188HD). Brightness, contrast, hue, colorfulness, and sharpness were compared. The port camera video is superior to the Storz scope and approximately equivalent to the Stryker scope. An ex vivo study was conducted to measure the operative performance of the port camera. The results suggest that simulated tissue identification and biopsy acquisition with the port camera is as efficient as with a traditional laparoscopic system. The port camera was successfully used by a laparoscopic surgeon for exploratory surgery and liver biopsy during a porcine surgery, demonstrating initial surgical feasibility.