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Ergonomics in the operating room: it doesn’t hurt to think about it, but it may hurt not to!

      Abstract

      Ergonomics has gained increasing recognition as an integral component of career longevity in ophthalmology. Residents and fellows may encounter unique ergonomic challenges when learning surgical techniques. A systematic review of the literature, specifically looking for recommendations on optimizing ergonomics in the operating room (OR) and articles that explicitly mentioned suggestions for trainees, was conducted. Of the identified 41 pieces of literature, 31 specifically mentioned ergonomics in the OR, 10 discussed vitreoretinal surgery, 2 mentioned strabismus surgery, and 2 described ergonomics in oculoplastics surgeries. Only 9 of the 41 articles explicitly mentioned either residents or fellows. Based on this review, as well as anecdotal experience, recommendations for residents, fellows, and staff ophthalmologists while working in the OR were compiled. To help offset risk for musculoskeletal injury, recommendations related to relaxation, movement, and maintenance of ergonomic focus are proposed. In addition, methods to optimize ergonomics for the patient, surgeon, surgical bed, foot pedals, surgeon’s chair, and the microscope are identified. Trainees may be at particular risk for injury owing to their placement at the surgical bed, and the fact that they may be less likely to get set up ergonomically either owing to a lack of awareness and teaching on the subject, or secondary to perceived time pressures in the OR. Ergonomics should ideally be considered across all domains of life, including in the OR, clinic, and office and at home. The earlier proper positioning is adopted and becomes habitual, the less likely potentially career-threatening musculoskeletal disorders will develop.
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