Operating table height and Spine surgeon’s kinematics during discectomy: South Korea study

As one article which has published on Eur Spine Journal, that ergonomic problems for surgeons during spine surgery are an awkward body posture, repetitive movements, increased muscle activity, an overflexed spine, and a protracted time in a standing posture.

For that reasons, some South Korea researchers analyzed whole spine angles during discectomy.  The objective of their study is to assess differences in surgeon whole spines angles according to operating table height and the methods used to visualize surgical field.

They used materials and methods, involve as cohort of 12 experienced spine surgeons was enrolled. Twelve experienced spine surgeons performed discectomy using a spine surgery simulator. Three different methods were used to visualize the surgical field such: naked eye, loupe, and out of loupe, and three different operating table heights. Whole spine angles were compared for three different views during discectomy simulation; midline, ipsilateral, and contralateral. A 16-camera optoelectronic motion analysis system was used, and 16 markers were placed from head to pelvis. Lumbar lordosis, thoracic kyphosis, cervical lordosis, and occipital angle were compared at the different operating table heights, while using the three visualization methods, with natural standing position.

Their study result showed that whole spine angles were significantly different for visualization methods. Lumbar lordosis, cervical lordosis, and occipital angle were closer to natural standing values when discectomy was performed with a loupe, but most measures differed from natural standing values when performed out of loupe. Thoracic kyphosis was also similar to the natural standing position during discectomy using a loupe, but differed from the natural standing position when performed with naked eye. Whole spine angles were also found to differ from the natural standing position according to operating table height, and became closer to natural standing position values as operating table height increased, when simulation was conducted with loupe.

As conclusion, based on their result study suggested that loupe use and a table height midpoint between the umbilicus and sternum are optimal for reducing surgeon musculoskeletal fatigue.


J Y Park, K H Kim, SU Kuh; Spine surgeon’s kinematics during discectomy according to operating table height and the methods to visualize the surgical field. Eur Spine J 2012 Dec; 21(12): 2704–2712.

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