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An ergonomic assessment of operating table and surgical stool heights for seated otolaryngology procedures

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Musculoskeletal injuries, such as neck and back pain, during a surgeon's career are common. However, studies on ergonomics are limited with regard to seated otolaryngologic procedures. Key elements of an ergonomic operating environment include the height of operating tables and surgical chairs. Surgeons benefit from proper support and positioning to prevent musculoskeletal injuries and reduce occupational risk.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate operating table and surgical seat heights, and determine whether adjustments can be made for various surgeon physiques.


Operating tables and surgical seat dimensions were measured at local hospitals, and the information was complemented by an online search of other models.


Five unique operating tables and five unique surgical stools were identified, both in the local hospital and in a search on the Internet. Of available tables, the greatest range was 63.5‐124.5 cm, which reaches above the maximum suggested working height of 76.2 cm. The surgical stool with the widest range was adjustable from heights of 50.8‐72.4 cm. This combination of operative table and surgical stool provided the greatest range of heights.


Of the available tables and stools measured, the combination of surgical table with a range of 63.5‐125.7 cm and surgical stool with a range of 50.8‐72.4 cm provided the greatest versatility for diverse physician heights. In ergonomic terms, this combination may reduce physical fatigue and create a potentially safer working environment for seated surgeons.
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Keywords: Ergonomics; head and neck surgery; musculoskeletal injuries; operating room; operating table; otolaryngology; physician strain and fatigue; surgical stool heights

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: From the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, University of Texas Health San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 2: Department of Surgery, San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Educational Consortium, Joint Base San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas

Publication date: 01 October 2017

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