Impact of novel shift handle laparoscopic tool on wrist ergonomics and task performance

Denny Yu, Bethany Lowndes, Missy Morrow, Kenton Kaufman, Juliane Bingener, Susan Hallbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Laparoscopic tool handles causing wrist flexion and extension more than 15° from neutral are considered “at risk” for musculoskeletal strain. Therefore, this study measured the impact of laparoscopic tool handle angles on wrist postures and task performance. Methods: Eight surgeons performed standard and modified Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) tasks with laparoscopic tools. Tool A had three adjustable handle angle configurations, i.e., in-line 0° (A0), 30° (A30), and pistol-grip 70° (A70). Tool B was a fixed pistol-grip grasper. Participants performed FLS peg transfer, inverted peg transfer, and inverted circle cut with each tool and handle angle. Inverted tasks were adapted from standard FLS tasks to simulate advanced tasks observed during abdominal wall surgeries, e.g., ventral hernia. Motion tracking, video analysis, and modified NASA-TLX workload questionnaires were used to measure postures, performance (e.g., completion time and errors), and workload. Results: Task performance did not differ between tools. For FLS peg transfer, self-reported physical workload was lower for B than for A70, and mean wrist postures showed significantly higher flexion for in-line than for pistol-grip tools (B and A70). For inverted peg transfer, workload was higher for all configurations. However, less time was spent in at-risk wrist postures for in-line (47 %) than for pistol-grip (93–94 %), and most participants preferred Tool A. For inverted circle cut, workload did not vary across configurations, mean wrist posture was 10° closer to neutral for A0 than B, and median time in at-risk wrist postures was significantly less for A0 (43 %) than for B (87 %). Conclusion: The best ergonomic wrist positions for FLS (floor) tasks are provided by pistol-grip tools and for tasks on the abdominal wall (ventral surface) by in-line handles. Adjustable handle angle laparoscopic tools can reduce ergonomic risks of musculoskeletal strain and allow versatility for tasks alternating between the floor and ceiling positions in a surgical trainer without impacting performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3480-3490
Number of pages11
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Ergonomics
  • FLS tasks
  • Handle angles
  • Laparoscopic tools
  • Wrist postures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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