Intraprocedural ergonomics of vascular surgeons

Victor J. Davila, Andrew J. Meltzer, Emma Fortune, Melissa M.B. Morrow, Bethany R. Lowndes, Anna R. Linden, M. Susan Hallbeck, Samuel R. Money

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to estimate the ergonomic postural risk (EPR) for musculoskeletal posture of vascular surgeons performing open and endovascular procedure types and with various adjunctive equipment using wearable inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors. The hypothesis was that EPR will increase with increased physical and mental demand as well as with procedural complexity. Methods: A prospective, observational study was conducted at a large, quaternary academic hospital located at two sites. Sixteen vascular surgeons (13 male) participated in the study. Participants completed a presurgery and postsurgery survey consisting of a body part discomfort scale and a modified NASA-Task Load Index. Participants wore IMU sensors on the head and upper body to measure EPR during open and endovascular procedures. Results: Vascular surgeons have increased EPR scores of the neck as measured by the IMUs and increased lower back pain when performing open surgery compared with non-open surgery (P <.05). Open procedures were rated as more physically demanding. The use of loupes resulted in increased EPR scores for the neck and torso (P <.05), and they were significantly associated with higher levels of lower back pain during procedures (P <.05) as well as with higher levels of physical demand (P <.05). The use of headlights also resulted in increased subjectively measured levels of physical demand and lower back pain. In comparing survey responses with IMU data, surveyed physical demand was strongly and significantly correlated with the neck (r = 0.61; P <.0001) and torso (r = 0.59; P <.0001) EPR scores. The use of lead aprons did not affect EPR or most surveyed measures of workload but resulted in significantly higher levels of distraction (P <.01). The data presented highlight the potential of using wearable sensors to measure the EPR of surgeons during vascular surgical procedures. Conclusions: Vascular surgeons should be aware of EPR during the performance of their duties. Procedure type and surgical adjuncts can alter EPR significantly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-308
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Ergonomics
  • Posture
  • Vascular surgeon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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