Surgeons at risk for injuries from minimally invasive techniques: study

February 4, 2010

Surgeons who perform minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery often experience physical discomfort, among other symptoms, according to research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

A survey of 317 board-certified gastrointestinal and endoscopic surgeons found 87 percent reported injuries such as eye strain; problems with the dominant hand; and neck, back and leg pain. A few reported headaches, shoulder muscle spasms, disc problems and carpal tunnel syndrome, a university press release said.

Researchers said laparoscopic surgeons are limited in movement because they operate by looking at a video screen, which requires keeping their neck and posture in an awkward position for hours. They also stand for long periods of time with their shoulders up and arms out.

To minimize the discomfort, 84 percent of respondents said they changed position, 30 percent switched instruments or took a break, and 40 percent said they ignore the problem.

The study is scheduled to be published in the March issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.