Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are prevalent among surgeons and result in significant disability. We aimed to review the English-language literature regarding ergonomic risk, prevalence of WMSDs, and unique ergonomic considerations of gynecologic surgery.
Surgeon WMSDs are prevalent, with rates ranging from 66 to 94% for open surgery, 73–100% for conventional laparoscopy, 54–87% for vaginal surgery, and 23–80% for robotic-assisted surgery. Risk factors for injury in open surgery include use of loupes, headlamps, and microscopes. Unique risks in laparoscopic surgery include table and monitor position, long-shafted instruments, and poor instrument handle design. In vaginal surgery, improper table height and twisted trunk position create injury risk. Although robotic surgery offers some advantages in neck and shoulder strain, it remains associated with trunk, wrist, and finger strain.
WMSDs are prevalent among surgeons but have received little attention because of under-reporting of injury and logistical constraints of studying surgical ergonomics. Future research must aim to develop objective surgical ergonomics instruments and guidelines and to correlate ergonomics assessments with pain and tissue-level damage in surgeons with WMSDs. Ergonomics training should be developed and implemented in order to protect surgeons from preventable, potentially career-altering injuries.
aDivision of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Reproductive Medicine, University of California
bDivision of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of OB/GYN, Kaiser Permanente, San Diego, USA
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