OBJECTIVE: To study musculoskeletal workload in experienced surgeons during laparoscopic surgery (LS) compared with robotic assisted laparoscopy (RALS).
BACKGROUND: 70-90% of surgeons who regularly perform LS report musculoskeletal symptoms, mainly in neck and shoulders. Data regarding the potential ergonomic benefits of RALS in a clinical setting is very limited.
METHODS: Twelve surgeons with advanced experience in both LS and RALS each performed 2 hysterectomies on the same day. LS was performed standing, RALS sitting, the latter allowing forearm and head support. Bipolar surface electromyogram (EMG) was recorded from several muscles and was expressed relative to EMG during maximum contractions (%EMGmax). Gaps per minute plus static (p0.1), mean (p0.5), and peak (p0.9) muscle activation were calculated. Perceived exertion was rated before and just after each surgery.
RESULTS: Neck muscle activity (p0.1 4.7 vs. 3.0%EMGmax, p0.5 7.4 vs. 5.3%EMGmax, p0.9 11.6 vs. 8.2%EMGmax, all P < 0.05) and static shoulder muscle activity (p0.1 5.7 vs. 2.8%EMGmax, P < 0.05) were higher for LS than for RALS. Both a higher level of gaps during RALS and a lower rating of perceived exertion, also for the legs, after RALS supported these observations. However, low back muscle activity was higher for RALS.
CONCLUSIONS: RALS is significantly less physically demanding than LS, and also feels less strenuous for the surgeons. However, for both types of surgeries, there still is room for improvement of working conditions. To further optimize these, we suggest a scheme to regularly observe and advise the surgeons.
- minimally invasive surgery
- physical working environment
- robotic surgery
- surgical ergonomics