Comparison of sensorineural symptoms between UK orthopaedic surgeons and gynaecologists


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Abstract

BackgroundWe have previously described significant differences in self-reported neurological symptoms of orthopaedic surgeons when compared to a group of gynaecologists. We suggested that this may be secondary to occupational sources of hand-transmitted vibration. The original study was intentionally brief and failed to address potential confounders.AimsTo compare the prevalence of sensorineural symptoms between UK orthopaedic surgeons and gynaecologists and adjust for potential confounding factors.MethodsPostal questionnaires were sent to 2040 members of the British Orthopaedic Association and 1797 members of the Royal College of Gynaecologists requesting information about demographics and self-reported neurological symptoms. Demographics of the orthopaedic surgeons and gynaecologists were compared using chi-squared tests and independent t-tests. Multiple logistic regressions were carried out to compare the prevalence of symptoms while adjusting for potential confounding factors.ResultsDifferences in the demographic profile of the orthopaedic surgeons and gynaecologists were identified: orthopaedic surgeons were predominantly male, were more junior in grade, were younger, used double gloving more often, had larger glove size, were more likely to be ambidextrous, to use vibrating tools outside of work and to consume greater amounts of alcohol. Orthopaedic surgeons reported a higher prevalence of tingling and numbness of fingers while at work and at other times. These differences were significant even after adjusting for potential confounding factors.ConclusionObserved differences could be related to exposure to hand-transmitted vibration at work. Further assessment of risk to orthopaedic surgeons from hand-held power tools used in the course of their work is recommended.

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