Ergonomics of gastrointestinal endoscopies: Musculoskeletal injury among endoscopy physicians, nurses, and technicians

Author Department

Internal Medicine; Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background: Musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) have plagued endoscopists and ancillary staff for decades without any innovative and strong ergonomic guidelines. It has placed a physical and mental strain on our endoscopists and ancillary staff. We have very have limited data supporting this claim in our region and most data is supported by western literature.

Aim: To document the prevalence of MSI, and awareness and practices of ergonomics by endoscopists and ancillary staff.

Methods: This is an observational cross-sectional study, conducted in Karachi, a city that boasts the maximum number of daily endoscopies in the country. An eleven-point self-administered questionnaire was distributed and used to evaluate MSI and ergonomic adjustments amongst three tertiary care setups in Karachi. An onsite survey via a 13-point checklist for endoscopy suite facilities was used to assess the ergonomically friendly conveniences at five tertiary care setups in Karachi. A total of 56 participants replied with a filled survey.

Results: There were 56 participants in total with 39 (69.6%) males. Pain and numbness were documented by 75% of the patients, with pain in the neck (41.1%), lower back (32.1%), shoulder (21.4%), thumb (12.5%), hand (23.2%), elbow (8.9%), and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) (7.1%). Of those, 33.3% attributed their symptoms to endoscopy, 14.2% said that symptoms were not caused by endoscopy, and 52.4% were not certain whether endoscopy had caused their symptoms. Twenty-one point four percent of patients had to take time off their work, while 33.9% took medications for pain. Ergonomic modifications to prevent musculoskeletal injury, including placement of endoscopic monitor at eye level and the cardiac monitor in front, stopping the procedure to move patients, sitting while performing colonoscopy, and navigating height-adjustable bed were used by 21.4%. Nine out of 13 ergonomic facilities were not present in all five tertiary care hospitals. Conveniences, such as anti-fatigue mats, height-adjustable computer stations, and time out between patients were not present.

Conclusion: Three-fourth of our endoscopists reported MSI, of which more than half were not sure or attributed this problem to endoscopy. The prevalence of MSI warrants urgent attention.

Keywords: Endoscopists; Endoscopy; Ergonomics; Gastroenterologist; Injury; Musculoskeletal.