Surgical ergonomics for urologists: a practical guide

Nat Rev Urol. 2021 Jan 11. doi: 10.1038/s41585-020-00414-4. Online ahead of print.


Poor ergonomics in the operating room can have detrimental effects on a surgeon's physical, psychological and economic well-being. This problem is of particular importance to urologists who are trained in nearly all operative approaches (open, laparoscopic, robotic-assisted, microscopic and endoscopic surgery), each with their own ergonomic considerations. The vast majority of urologists have experienced work-related musculoskeletal pain or injury at some point in their career, which can result in leaves of absence, medical and/or surgical treatment, burnout, changes of specialty and even early retirement. Surgical ergonomics in urology has been understudied and underemphasized. In this Review, we characterize the burden of musculoskeletal injury in urologists and focus on various ergonomic considerations relevant to the urology surgeon. Although the strength of evidence remains limited in this space, we highlight several practical recommendations stratified by operative approach that can be incorporated into practice without interrupting workflow whilst minimizing injury to the surgeon. These recommendations might also serve as the foundation for ergonomics training curricula in residency and continuing medical education programmes. With improved awareness of ergonomic principles and the sequelae of injury related to urological surgery, urologists can be more mindful of their operating room environment and identify ways of reducing their own symptoms and risk of injury.

Publication types

  • Review