Objective: This study sought to investigate the prevalence of laparoscopic surgeon injury/illness symptoms and evaluate associations between symptoms and operating room ergonomics.
Background: Although laparoscopic procedures significantly benefit patients in terms of decreased recovery times and improved outcomes, they contribute to mental fatigue and musculoskeletal problems among surgeons. A variety of ergonomic interventions and applications are implemented by surgeons to reduce health problems. Currently, there is a gap in knowledge regarding a surgeon's individual assessment of the operating room, an assessment that, in turn, would prompt the implementation of these interventions.
Method: A new survey instrument solicited information from surgeons (N = 61) regarding surgeon demographics, perception, frequency of operating room equipment adjustment, and self-reported symptoms. Surgeons responded to questions addressing safety, ergonomics, and fatigue in the operating room, using a 5-point Likert-type scale that included the option undecided.
Results: Surgeons who responded undecided were more likely to experience symptoms of injury/illness than respondents who were able to assess the features of their operating rooms. Symptoms were experienced by 100% of participants. The most prevalent symptoms were neck stiffness, back stiffness, and back pain.
Conclusion: This study supports hypotheses that surgeons are experiencing body part discomfort and indicators of fatigue that may be associated with performing laparoscopy. Results suggest that awareness, knowledge, and utilization of ergonomic principles could protect surgeons against symptoms that lead to occupational injury.
Application: The purpose of this brief report is to convey the importance of ergonomic principles in the operating room, specific to laparoscopic surgery and surgeon injury/illness symptoms.