A comparison of surgeons' posture during laparoscopic and open surgical procedures

R. Berguer, George T Rab, H. Abu-Ghaida, A. Alarcon, J. Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Scopus citations


Background: There is increasing recognition of surgeons' physical fatigue in the new ergonomic environment of laparoscopic surgery. The purpose of this study was to determine what the differences are in the movement of the surgeon's axial skeleton between laparoscopic and open operations. Methods: Surgeons' body positions were recorded on videotape during four laparoscopic (LAP) and six open (OP) operations. The percent of time the head and back were in a normal, bent, or twisted position as well as the number of changes in head and back position were tabulated using a computer program. A separate laboratory study was performed on four surgeons "walking" a 0.5-inch polyethylene tubing forward and backward using laparoscopic and open techniques. The movements of the surgeons' head, trunk, and pelvis were measured using a three-camera kinematic system (Kin). The center of pressure was recorded using a floor-mounted forceplate (Fp). Results: In the operating room surgeons' head and back positions were more often straight in laparoscopic procedures and more often bent in open operations. The number of changes in back position per minute were significantly decreased when the laparoscopic-only part of surgery was analyzed. In the laboratory the subjects' head position was significantly (p = 0.02) more upright and the anteroposterior (AP) and rotational range of motion of the head was significantly reduced during laparoscopy. Subjects' CP was more anterior and there was a significant reduction in the AP range of motion of the CP during laparoscopy. Conclusions: Our study suggests that surgeons exhibit decreased mobility of the head and back and less anteroposterior weight shifting during laparoscopic manipulations despite a more upright posture. This more restricted posture during laparoscopic surgery may induce fatigue by limiting the natural changes in body posture that occur during open surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-142
Number of pages4
JournalSurgical Endoscopy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997


  • Ergonomics
  • Fatigue
  • Laparoscopy
  • Posture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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