Gender equity in ergonomics: does muscle effort in laparoscopic surgery differ between men and women?

Priscila Rodrigues Armijo, Laura Flores, Bhavani Pokala, Chun Kai Huang, Ka Chun Siu, Dmitry Oleynikov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Women surgeons may experience more ergonomic challenges while performing surgery. We aimed to assess ergonomics between men and women surgeons. Methods: Laparoscopic surgeons from a single institution were enrolled. Demographics and intraoperative data were collected. Muscle groups were evaluated objectively using surface electromyography (EMG; TrignoTM, Delsys, Inc., Natick, MA), and comprised upper trapezius (UT), anterior deltoid, flexor carpi radialis (FCR), and extensor digitorum (ED). Comparisons were made between women (W) and men (M) for each muscle group, assessing maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and median frequency (MDF). The Piper Fatigue Scale-12 (PFS-12) was used to assess self-perceived fatigue. Statistical analyses were performed using SPSS v26.0, α = 0.05. Results: 18 surgeries were recorded (W:8, M:10). Women had higher activation of UT (32% vs 23%, p < 0.001), FCR (33% vs 16%, p < 0.001), and ED (13% vs 10%, p < 0.001), and increased effort of ED (90.4 ± 18.13 Hz vs 99.1 ± 17.82 Hz). Comparisons were made between W and M for each muscle group, assessing MVC and MDF. Conclusions: After controlling for surgeon’s height and duration of surgery, an increase in muscle activation was seen for women laparoscopic surgeons. Since poor ergonomics could be a major cause of work-related injuries, we must understand differences in ergonomics between men and women and evaluate which factors impact these variations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-401
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Ergonomics
  • Gender equity
  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Operating room

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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