Laparoscopic Practice Takes Physical Toll on Surgeons

Study finds that 87 percent of laparoscopic surgeons suffer discomfort or physical symptoms
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Many surgeons who perform laparoscopic surgery suffer pain, numbness, stiffness, fatigue and other physical symptoms, often as a result of high case load, according to a study published online Dec. 24 ahead of print in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Adrian Park, M.D., of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, and colleagues surveyed 2,000 surgeons in laparoscopic practices to elicit information on demographics, physical symptoms, ergonomics knowledge, practice environment, and equipment used. The study was prompted by surgeon reports of symptoms resulting from the difficulties of laparoscopic surgery, such as reduced patient access, reduced freedom of motion, and no direct view of the surgery site.

A total of 317 surgeons responded to the survey with 272 (86.9 percent) reporting discomfort or physical symptoms. The leading predictor for symptoms was case volume, but eye and back symptoms were reported even with a low volume, the researchers note. Symptoms of the neck, hand, and lower extremity also correlated with fellowship training. No significant correlation was found for age, height, or length of time in practice.

"Far beyond previous reports of 20 percent to 30 percent incidence of occupational injury, we present evidence that 87 percent of surgeons who regularly perform minimally invasive surgery suffer such symptoms or injuries, primarily high case load-associated. Additional data accrual and analysis are necessary, as laparoscopic procedures become more prevalent, for improvement of surgeon-patient and surgeon-technology interfaces to reverse this trend and halt the epidemic before it is upon us," the authors conclude.

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