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Minimally invasive surgery is hard on surgeons

As the popularity of minimally invasive surgery has skyrocketed, surgeons have noticed an increased number of ergonomic issues that have increased the wear and tear on their own bodies.  Not only the way that the instruments must be held and manipulated, but the lack of attention to instrument design — especially issues related to “one-size-fits-all” instruments that are more difficult for female surgeons who typically have smaller hands.  Operating rooms in most hospitals were designed for open procedures, so the introduction of minimally invasive operations requires the addition of cables and tubes, which can be a safety hazard for the OR team.  An interesting point: “…researchers found that the percentage of total floor space occupied by humans, furniture, and equipment during laparoscopic operations increases by 10 percent over open operations.”  The concern about these ergonomic issues for the surgical workforce as a whole is whether there will be a tendency to shorten the typical surgeon’s career as years of physical demands take their toll.

Source: Glickson, J.  Surgeons experience more ergonomic stress in the OR.  Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons;97(4):20-26, Apr. 2012.  Click here for free full text on the publisher’s website: http://www.facs.org/fellows_info/bulletin/2012/glickson0412.pdf  Posted by AHA Resource Center, (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org 

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