Surgical Positioning, Positioning a Patient for Surgery

Goals of Proper Positioning

  • To maintain circulation
  • To maintain patient’s airway and avoid constriction or pressure on the chest cavity
  • To prevent nerve damage
  • To provide adequate exposure of the operative site
  • To provide comfort and safety to the patient
When Positioning a patient, following criteria should be met to prevent injury from pressure, obstruction, or stretching:

  • Accessibility for anesthetic administration
  • Accessibility to operative site
  • Maintenance of individual requirements
  • Minimal skin pressure
  • No interference with circulation
  • No interference with respiration
  • No pressure on peripheral nerves
  • No undue musculoskeletal discomfort
The surgical team should assess the following prior to positioning of the patient
  • Patient's age, weight, skin condition, mobility/limitations, pre-existing conditions, etc.
  • Procedure length
  • Required position for procedure
  • Surgeon’s preference of position
  • Anesthesia to be administered
  • Basics of anatomy & physiology
  • Patient’s privacy and medical needs
  • Patient’s risk factors
Basic Surgical Positions

  • Supine Position
  • Prone Position
  • Lateral Position
  • Lithotomy Position
Position Variations
  • Trendelenburg
  • Reverse Trendelenburg
  • Fowler’s
  • Jackknife
  • High lithotomy
  • Low lithotomy


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