Surgeons may suffer from pain in the neck and upper back during surgeries, contributing to burnout and fatigue.
According to a new study, many surgeons report experiencing neck and back pain after performing surgeries. The study focused on 53 surgeons who performed 116 surgeries at the Mayo Clinic. The surgeons reported experiencing pain and fatigue after surgeries.
Neck pain was the most common injury surgeons reported with 62 percent of doctors reporting these injuries, while 45 percent reported lower back injuries. About 43 percent of doctors reported suffering upper back injuries. About three-quarters of the surgeons reported experiencing serious fatigue after a surgery.
Longer surgeries contributed to greater fatigue among patients. The use of a magnifying lens during the surgery also increased the chances of suffering neck pain as surgeons were more likely to experience an increase in neck angle of 10 percent when they were using these magnifying glasses during a procedure.
Some types of surgeries are more likely to result in pain and fatigue than others. For example, the study found that surgeons were subjected to unusual or demanding neck angles at least 80 percent of the time during open heart surgery and about 43 percent of the time during laparoscopic surgery. Excess strain on the back was present 17 percent of the time during laparoscopic surgery and about 40 percent of the time during open heart surgery.
The researchers, who published the results in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, believe that these injuries to the back and neck can cause fatigue, stress and eventually, symptoms of burnout in surgeons. It can affect surgeon morale, overall. Musculoskeletal injuries like neck and back pain, especially when they are chronic, have been linked to depression, anxiety and other conditions.
Surgeon fatigue has been a cause for worry for many in the medical profession. Studies have indicated greater risk of burnout and fatigue, especially during longer surgeries or during surgeries at night. A surgeon who is experiencing symptoms of burnout may be at a higher risk of making errors that harm patients.