Surgeons as elite athletes

As a surgeon, have you ever felt more exhausted after performing laparoscopic surgery on a patient with a high body mass index (BMI)? Our recent study aimed to objectively quantify the impact of different BMI levels on surgeons' upper body movements and workload during laparoscopic surgery. The study used inertial measurement units and varying thicknesses of foam to simulate BMIs of 20, 30, 40, and 50 kg/m2.

You can read the details in the paper. In short, the results showed that even experienced surgeons experienced significant increases in head, torso, and upper arm movement when operating on the 40 and 50 kg/m2 models, indicating decreased motion efficiency and efficacy, as you can see in the figure below. Novice surgeons were found to have less controlled movements and larger dynamic workloads compared to the more experienced surgeons. 

This study too suggests that laparoscopic surgery on high BMI patients can increase the risk of musculoskeletal injury for surgeons due to the physically demanding conditions. 

So, if you are a surgeon, it's important you are aware of the potential physical strain that laparoscopic surgery on high BMI patients can cause. 

Think like an elite athlete! Train for performance, sure, but most importantly train to avoid injuries. 

Sers, R., Forrester, S., Zecca, M. et al. Objective assessment of surgeon kinematics during simulated laparoscopic surgery: a preliminary evaluation of the effect of high body mass index models. Int J CARS 17, 75–83 (2022).