The Virtual Instrumentation (VI) Laboratory facilitates customized on-site ergonomic analysis of minimally invasive surgery.Stud Health Technol Inform. 1998; 50:240-5.SH
Ergonomic studies are needed to understand and improve the visual and physical interface that minimally invasive surgery methods interpose between the surgeon and the operating field. We used the Virtual Instrumentation (VI) Laboratory of the Biomedical Engineering Program at California State University, Sacramento to develop a portable ergonomic analysis system to compare the physical workloads imposed on the surgeon by tradition open and laparoscopic surgery techniques. We used the system at a national surgery conference to measure electromyogram (EMG) activity from thumb and forearm muscles of volunteer subjects as they performed simulated surgical tasks using open and laparoscopic techniques. We found that EMG activity was significantly greater for the laparoscopic than for the open surgery technique, suggesting that the laparoscopic technique was more physically demanding. The portable ergonomic analysis VI system was quick to set up and convenient to use. We are using the rapid prototyping and modular design capabilities of the VI Lab to develop additional ergonomic analysis VI systems.