An ergonomic field study to evaluate the effects of a rotatable handle piece on muscular stress and fatigue as well as subjective ratings of usability, wrist posture and precision during laparoscopic surgery

An explorative pilot study
Purpose: The interface between surgeon and the laparoscopic instrument is an important factor in biomechanical stress that may increase the risk of musculoskeletal complaints in surgeons. This article investigates the effect of a laparoscopic instrument with a rotatable handle piece (rot-HP) on muscular stress and fatigue during routine laparoscopic procedures (LP) as well as usability, wrist posture and working precision.
Methods: 40 LP (subtotal hysterectomies) performed by 11 surgeons were investigated. 20 LP were carried out with the rot-HP and 20 with a fixed (standard) laparoscopic handle piece instrument. Shoulder and arm muscle activity was monitored via surface electromyography (sEMG). The electrical activity (EA) and median power frequency (MPF) were used to determine muscular stress and fatigue. Usability, wrist posture, and working precision between handle piece conditions were assessed by a survey.
Results: Using the rot-HP did not reduce muscular stress. A tendency of muscular fatigue (increasing EA, decreasing MPF) occurred in the upper trapezius, middle deltoid and extensor digitorum muscles; however, no differences were found between handle pieces. Wrist posture was more comfortable using the rot-HP and working precision and usability tended to be preferred using the standard handle piece.
Conclusions: Although wrist posture seemed to be optimized by the rot-HP, no effect on muscular stress and fatigue was observed in routine LP (< 60 min duration). Optimization of wrist posture may provide positive effects in mid- or long-term procedures. However, sufficient familiarization with the new instrument is crucial since working precision and usability could be impaired.

Source: Kraemer, B., Seibt, R., Stoffels, A. K., Rothmund, R., Brucker, S. Y., Rieger, M. A. et Steinhilber, B. (2018). International archives of occupational and environmental health.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-018-1344-1

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