Quantitative Assessment of Surgical Ergonomics in Otolaryngology.Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020 Dec; 163(6):1186-1193.OH
Objective evaluation of the ergonomic risk of common otolaryngology procedures and assessment of work-related musculoskeletal pain and injury.
Cross-sectional intraoperative assessment and survey.
Department of Otolaryngology at a tertiary children's hospital.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS
Sixteen otolaryngology attendings, fellows, and residents participated in a blinded study. Intraoperative ergonomics was assessed for tonsillectomies, adenoidectomies, and tympanostomy tube insertions using the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA). Follow-up surveys were sent to all participating surgeons to determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and formal ergonomic training.
Zero percent (N = 0/275) of intraoperative observations were found to have a negligible level of ergonomic risk, with 47% low risk, 37% high risk, and 16% very high risk. Tympanostomy tube insertions conferred less risk than tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, while the use of headlamp or loupes conferred increased risk. Eighty percent of respondents reported having musculoskeletal pain and 40% reported experiencing pain while operating within the past year. The most common area of pain was the cervical spine. No surgeons reported formal ergonomic training.
Our study demonstrates an unacceptable level of ergonomic risk for common procedures in otolaryngology. Furthermore, most participants reported experiencing musculoskeletal pain despite the duration of examined procedures being relatively short. The high prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal pain and the lack of ergonomic training in our cohort highlight the need for increased awareness of ergonomics as well as the development of formal ergonomic curricula.