Ergonomic Robotic Console Configuration in Gynecologic Surgery: An Interventional Study

Erik D. Hokenstad, M. Susan Hallbeck, Bethany R. Lowndes, Melissa M. Morrow, Amy L. Weaver, Michaela McGree, Gretchen E. Glaser, John A. Occhino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Objective: The objectives of this study were to (1) pilot a robotic console configuration methodology to optimize ergonomic posture, and (2) determine the effect of this intervention on surgeon posture and musculoskeletal discomfort. Design: This was an institutional review board–approved prospective cohort study conducted from February 2017 to October 2017. Setting: A single tertiary care midwestern academic medical center. Participants: Six fellowship-trained gynecologic surgeons, proficient in robotic hysterectomy, were recruited: 3 men and 3 women. Interventions: Each surgeon performed 3 robotic hysterectomies using their self-selected robotic console settings (preintervention). Then, a robotic console ergonomic intervention protocol was implemented by trained ergonomists to improve posture and decrease time in poor ergonomic positions. Each surgeon then performed 3 robotic hysterectomies using the ergonomic intervention settings (postintervention). All surgeries used the da Vinci Xi surgical system (Intuitive Surgical, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA) and were the first case of the day. The surgeons wore inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors on their head, chest, and bilateral upper arms during surgery. The IMU sensors are equipped with accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers to give objective measurements of body posture. IMU data were then analyzed to determine the percentage of time spent in ergonomically risky postures as categorized using a modified rapid upper limb assessment. Before and after each hysterectomy, the surgeons completed identical questionnaires for an assessment of musculoskeletal pain/discomfort. The outcome measurements were compared pre- versus postintervention on the basis of fitting generalized linear mixed models that handled the individual surgeon as a random effect and “setting” as a fixed effect. Measurements and Main Results: With regard to the IMU posture results, there was a significant decrease in time spent in the moderate- to high-risk neck position and a decrease in average neck angle after the ergonomic intervention. The average percentage of time spent in moderate- to high-risk categories was significantly lower for the neck (mean, 54.3% vs 21.0%; p = .008) and right upper arm (mean, 15.5% vs 0.9%; p = .02) when using the intervention settings compared with the surgeons’ settings. Pain score results: There were fewer reported increases in neck (4 [22%] vs 1 [6%]) and right shoulder (4 [22%] vs 2 [11%]) pain or discomfort after completion of robotic hysterectomy postintervention versus preintervention; however, these differences did not attain statistical significance (p = .12 and p = .37, respectively). Conclusion: An ergonomic robotic console intervention demonstrated effectiveness and improved objective surgeon posture at the console when compared with the surgeons’ self-selected settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)850-859
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ergonomics
  • Hysterectomy
  • Robotic surgery
  • Surgeon pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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