Covidien Announces Method to Measure Operating Room Ergonomics

Covidien (NYSE: COV), a leading global provider of healthcare products, today announced that researchers have developed a new method to measure the physical strain placed on surgeons while performing minimally invasive surgery. By analyzing surgeons’ motions in the operating room, researchers will gain new insights into proper postures, techniques and body angles that should influence the development of new ergonomically designed minimally invasive surgery instruments.

Donald R. Peterson, PhD, MS, University of Connecticut Health Center Biodynamics Laboratory in the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, presented the new criteria during an oral presentation1 (Abstract ET008) at the annual meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), held earlier this month.

Separately, Dr. Peterson also presented a poster2 (Abstract P412) showing that powered surgical stapling instruments, such as those Covidien manufactures, demonstrate negligible staple firing and blade retraction forces, when compared to manual staplers, which may increase instrument stability and decrease surgeon fatigue.

“The widespread acceptance of minimally invasive surgical procedures has led to an increase in their popularity and demand. To successfully perform laparoscopic surgery, surgeons may have to position their bodies at unnatural angles and perform repetitive actions with their hands, which may cause strain and fatigue,” Dr. Peterson said. “We have now established a method to assess the biomechanical risks that surgeons face when performing minimally invasive surgery. This should provide invaluable information to guide the development and design of new ergonomic surgical tools.”

The assessment method involves using an opto-electronic motion capture (OEMC) system to track the surgeon’s movements, technique and posture. Electrodes are used to record muscle activity and fatigue of the forearm muscles that control hand movements. Additionally, thin film force sensors are mounted on the surgical devices to measure grip force, and a force plate is used to measure the push and pull forces of the surgeon on the devices.

“Covidien works closely with surgeons to develop devices that not only improve patient outcomes, but make minimally invasive surgery easier and safer to perform,” said Paul Hermes, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, Covidien Surgical Solutions. “We believe our line of powered staplers already represents a tremendous leap forward in terms of surgical device ergonomics. These new findings will allow us to gain even deeper insights into the biomechanical risks that surgeons face so we can design even better products in the future.”


Covidien is a leading global healthcare products company that creates innovative medical solutions for better patient outcomes and delivers value through clinical leadership and excellence. Covidien manufactures, distributes and services a diverse range of industry-leading product lines in three segments: Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies. With 2011 revenue of $11.6 billion, Covidien has 41,000 employees worldwide in more than 65 countries, and its products are sold in over 140 countries. Please visit to learn more about our business.

1 Donald R Peterson, PhD MS, Drew Seils, BS, Tarek Tantawy, BS, Angela Kueck, MD, M Kurt E Roberts, MD. Novel Method for Comprehensively Assessing the Biomechanical Risks Associated with the Use of Minimally-Invasive Surgical Instruments. Emerging Technology Session ET008 presented at: Annual Meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons; 2012 Mar 7-10; San Diego, CA.

2 Donald R Peterson, PhD, Drew R Seils, BS, Tarek Tantawy, BS, Angela S Kueck, MD, M Kurt E Roberts, MD. Comparing the Biomechanical Characteristics of Manual and Powered Laparoscopic Stapler Designs . Poster session P412 presented at: Annual Meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons; 2012 Mar 7-10; San Diego, CA.


Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President of Ortho Spine Partners and Partner for The De Angelis Group. He also serves as Co-Founder and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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