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Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol. 2013 Jan;23(1):115-7. doi: 10.1007/s00590-011-0935-2. Epub 2011 Dec 31.

Positioning of the patient during shoulder surgery: an inexpensive, safe and easy technique.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Gent, Belgium.


The knowledge of shoulder pathology has improved tremendously in the last decades, and shoulder surgery is increasingly performed because of new treatment options and better operative results. Nowadays most surgical shoulder procedures are performed in the sitting or semi-sitting (beach chair) position. Stability of the patient and the ability to flex, extend and rotate the shoulder during surgery are crucial to improve exposure of the surgical field and lower the risk of perioperative complications. We developed an easy, safe and inexpensive surgical set-up providing a very good posterior, superior and anterior access to the shoulder in the sitting or semi-sitting position. In this technique, the patient is placed supine with the head at the foot end of the table and the body positioned slightly eccentrically with the back being supported by the leg plate contralateral to the operative side, avoiding any contact with the scapula of the operative side. A neck support is attached on an extra bar at the contralateral side and accommodated to the patient's lordosis. Next, the leg plate on the operative side is removed, and the head and the body are secured to the table with adhesive dressing. This way a stable positioning of the patient is obtained during the whole procedure, and the shoulder girdle is completely free. The set-up can accommodate patients of different stature and weight without the need to adapt the technique. This position also gives the possibility to provide an excellent radiographic view of the shoulder during operative fracture treatment. Our technique further allows a significant reduction in costs. A surgical table, extra bar, additional arm support and neck support are usually available and can be used in different settings, without the need for a specific shoulder table.

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