Scope Injuries Common for Gastros; Ergonomics Training, Not So Much

Endoscopists should be provided with brief breaks and more ergonomic workspaces to reduce their risk for injury related to performing procedures, results of a recent survey suggest .

The survey, sent to nearly 10,600 physician members of the American Gastroenterological Association, found that musculoskeletal injuries are common among endoscopists, with 85% of both women and men reporting such problems since they began scoping. Women were more likely to experience injuries to the upper body, particularly the shoulders, upper back and right arm (Table).

Table. Musculoskeletal Injuries Reported by Members of the American Gastroenterological Association
Type of Injury All Women Men P Value
(Women vs. Men)
Overall, before practicing endoscopy 45.5% 45.9% 45.3% 0.87
Overall, after practicing endoscopy 85.6% 85.4% 85.6% 0.93
Areas of Injury After Practicing Endoscopy
Eyestrain 21.8% 22.2% 21.5% 0.84
Right finger 13.2% 15.2% 12.0% 0.25
Left finger 12.9% 13.0% 12.5% 0.85
Right thumb 21.5% 26.2% 18.7% 0.03
Left thumb 34.1% 32.7% 34.9% 0.59
Right wrist 22.1% 30.6% 17.5% 0.0002
Left wrist 16.3% 18.6% 15.1% 0.27
Right elbow 12.0% 8.3% 13.7% 0.05
Left elbow 1.8% 0.9% 2.3% 0.20
Neck 35.9% 37.3% 35.5% 0.67
Right shoulder 14.5% 18.5% 12.3% 0.04
Left shoulder 13.4% 17.1% 11.2% 0.04
Upper back 11.3% 16.1% 8.7% 0.006
Lower back 34.6% 34.0% 35.0% 0.80
Right knee 4.5% 4.6% 4.5% 0.94
Left knee 4.7% 5.1% 4.5% 0.77
Feet 17.6% 21.1% 15.8% 0.10`

The researchers recommend more ergonomics training for fellows and practicing gastroenterologists, and they advise clinicians to take short breaks of one to three minutes at least once an hour to avoid muscle fatigue. Fewer than 14% of clinicians surveyed reported taking such breaks.

In an unrelated survey of 114 GI fellows, nearly half (49%) said they experienced a new musculoskeletal injury since beginning their training (Figure). Almost 85% blamed the injury on endoscopy. Nearly three-fourths of those who reported an injury said it occurred in the first year of their program, and roughly 73% said they sustained multiple injuries.

Figure. Timing of first musculoskeletal injury after starting to perform endoscopy.

Although the vast majority of fellows said they would like to receive ergonomics training, only about 25% said they had received such instruction during their program.

—GEN Staff

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