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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Journal of Endourology

Volume 25, Issue 12, December 2011, Pages 1915-1920.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1089/end.2011.0128. Copyright © Mary Ann Libert, Inc.


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Endourology has evolved rapidly for the management of both benign and malignant disease of the upper urinary tract. Limited data exist, however, on the occupational hazards posed by complex endourologic procedures. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and possible causes of hand problems among endourologists who routinely perform flexible ureteroscopy compared with controls.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: An online computer survey targeted members of the Endourological Society and psychiatrists in academic and community settings. A total of 600 endourologists and 578 psychiatrists were contacted by e-mail. Invited physicians were queried regarding their practice settings and symptoms of hand pain, neuropathy, and/or discomfort.

RESULTS: Survey responses were obtained from 122 (20.3%) endourologists and 74 (12.8%) psychiatrists. Of endourologists, 61% were in an academic setting and 70% devoted their practice to endourology. Endourologists were in practice for a mean 13 years, performing 4.5 ureteroscopic cases per week with a mean operative time of 50 minutes. Hand/wrist problems were reported by 39 (32%) endourologists compared with 14 (19%) psychiatrists (P=0.0486, relative risk [RR]=1.69). Surgeons who preferred counterintuitive ureteroscope deflection were significantly more likely to have problems (56%) compared with intuitive users (27%) (RR 2.07, P=0.0139) or those with no preference (26%) (RR 2.15, P=0.0451). Overall, most respondents (85%) with hand/wrist problems needed either medical or surgical intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: Hand and wrist problems are very common among endourologists. Future studies are needed to develop more ergonomic platforms and thereby reduce the endourologist's exposure to these occupational hazards.

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