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Indian J Orthop. 2019 Nov-Dec;53(6):758-762. doi: 10.4103/ortho.IJOrtho_677_18.

Surgeon's Neck Posture during Spine Surgeries: "The Unrecognised Potential Occupational Hazard".

Author information

Mallika Spine Centre, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India.


Study Design:

Observational study.


The purpose of this study is to analyze the surgeon's neck postures while performing lumbar spinal surgeries.

Overview of Literature:

Lumbar spinal surgeries are on rising trend, and with increase in number of procedures, the average time spent by a spine surgeon performing surgical procedures is also increasing. The effect of operating posture on the surgeon's neck is largely unknown. From the studies conducted on usage of smartphones, abnormal neck postures, especially the forward head posture (FHP), were found to adversely affect the cervical spine of individuals. The present study analyzes the neck position of spine surgeons during lumbar spine surgeries.


Sixty video recordings (25 open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusions [TLIFs] and 35 lumbar decompression [LD] procedures - 15 with headlight and 20 with operating microscope) of surgeries performed by three spine surgeons of different heights were analyzed. Running videos of the surgeries were recorded concentrating on the surgeons with reflective markers taped to their surface landmarks corresponding to C7 spinous process, tragus of the ear, and outer canthus of the eye. Video recordings were standardized by a fixed video recorder in the same operating theater. Snapshots from the video were obtained whenever the surgeon changes the position. Head flexion angle (HFA), neck flexion angle (NFA), and cervical angle (CA) were measured and analyzed.


During TLIF, HFA and NFA were significantly higher during the phases of decompression and fusion (P < 0.05). The average CA of all surgeons was lower, thereby adversely affecting the cervical spine (20.15° ± 5.05°). During LD, CA showed significant difference between usage of microscope and headlight (P < 0.001).


Surgeon's FHP is frequently caused by a compromise between the need to perform surgery with hands, without elevating the arms, and simultaneous control of gaze at surgical field. The usage of microscope was found to reduce the stress on neck while performing surgery.


Ergonomics; forward head posture; postural analysis; spine surgeon; surgeon's neck

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