Objective The comparative postural health of surgeons performing endoscopic and microscopic otologic surgeries has been a topic of active debate, with many nascent or anecdotal reports suggesting the latter encourages suboptimal ergonomics. Using inertial body sensors to measure joint angles, this study sought to objectively evaluate and compare the ergonomics of surgeons during endoscopic and microscopic otologic surgeries. Study Design Prospective pilot trial. Setting Large, multicenter, academic hospital system. Performed 21 otologic operations (10 endoscopic and 11 microscopic) in November 2020 and January 2021. All attendings were fellowship trained in otology/neurotology. Subjects Eight otolaryngologists (four attendings and four residents) performing 21 otologic surgeries (11 microscopic and 10 endoscopic). Intervention Approach to otologic surgery: endoscope or microscope. Main Outcome Measures Surgeons' neck and back angles while wearing ergonomic sensors affixed to either side of each major joint, mental and physical burdens and pain after each surgery (via modified NASA Task Load Index). Results Residents' necks (9.54° microscopic vs. -4.79° endoscopic, p = 0.04) and backs (16.48° microscopic vs. 3.66° endoscopic, p = 0.01) were significantly more flexed when performing microscopic surgery than when performing endoscopic surgery, although attending neck and back flexion were comparable during microscopic and endoscopic surgeries. Attendings reported significantly higher pain levels after operating microscopically than after operating endoscopically (0.13 vs. 2.76, p = 0.01). Conclusions Residents were found to operate with significantly higher risk back and neck postures (as defined by the validated ergonomic tool, Rapid Entire Body Assessment) when operating microscopically. Attendings reported significantly higher levels of pain after operating microscopically versus endoscopically, suggesting that the suboptimal microscopic postures adopted earlier in training may pose an indelible risk later in a surgeon's career.
- Occupational hazards
- Physician health