Optimizing Positioning for In-Office Otology Procedures.Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017 01; 156(1):156-160.OH
Objective Surgeons often report musculoskeletal discomfort in relation to their practice, but few understand optimal ergonomic positioning. This study aims to determine which patient position-sitting versus supine-is ergonomically optimal for performing otologic procedures. Study Design Observational study. Setting Outpatient otolaryngology clinic setting in a tertiary care facility. Subjects and Methods We observed 3 neurotologists performing a standardized simulated cerumen debridement procedure on volunteers in 2 positions: sitting and supine. The Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)-a validated tool that calculates stress placed on the upper limb during a task-was used to evaluate ergonomic positioning. Scores on this instrument range from 1 to 7, with a score of 1 to 2 indicating negligible risk of developing posture-related injury. The risk of musculoskeletal disorders increases as the RULA score increases. Results In nearly every trial, RULA scores were lower when the simulated patient was placed in the supine position. When examined as a group, the median RULA scores were 5 with the patient sitting and 3 with the patient in the supine position (P < .0001). When the RULA scores of the 3 neurotologists were examined individually, each had a statistically significant decrease in score with the patient in the supine position. Conclusion This study indicates that patient position may contribute to ergonomic stress placed on the otolaryngologist's upper limb during in-office otologic procedures. Otolaryngologists should consider performing otologic procedures with the patient in the supine position to decrease their own risk of developing upper-limb musculoskeletal disorders.