Surgical instruments consist of basic mechanical components such as gears, links, pivots, sliders, etc., which are common in mechanical design. This paper describes the application of a method in the analysis and design of complex surgical instruments such as those employed in laparoscopic surgery. This is believed to be the first application of type synthesis theory to a complex medical instrument. Type synthesis is a methodology that can be applied during the conceptual phase of mechanical design. A handle assembly from a patented laparoscopic surgical stapler is used to illustrate the application of the design method developed. Type synthesis is applied on specific subsystems of the mechanism within the handle assembly where alternative design concepts are generated. Chosen concepts are then combined to form a new conceptual design for the handle assembly. The new handle assembly is improved because it has fewer number of parts, is a simpler design and is easier to assemble. Surgical instrument designers may use the methodology presented here to analyze the mechanical subsystems within complex instrumemts and to create new options that may offer improvements to the original design.