UW study of surgeons finds one size does not fit all - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW study of surgeons finds one size does not fit all


MADISON (WKOW) -- When you're on the operating table, your life is literally in your surgeon's hands.

A UW study discovered surgeons with smaller hands are at a disadvantage, because the tools they use are one-size-fits-all.

Surgeons perform life-saving operations everyday at UW hospital, many done laparscopically.

Using a tiny incision and camera to see inside a patient's body, surgeons use tools with long handles to operate.

UW surgeons say the single, most important instrument used in surgery is the stapler.  It's used to divide tissue or blood vessels.

It's this critical tool that especially concerns UW surgeon Dr. Peter Nichol.

Dr. Nichol surveyed both male and female surgeons from across the country.  He found almost every surgeon with smaller hands had to compensate when using the stapler.

"You have to essentially use two hands and it should be one, flush easy manuever," explains Dr. Nichol.

Dr. Nichol worries these compensations could lead to deadly mistakes.

"You disadvantage someone by giving them sub-optimal tools and you have to consider what the consequences will be," he explains.

Dr. Nichol says the stapler is designed for a glove size of seven inches.  The average man's hand is 7.5 and a woman's is 6.5. 

Imagine how much more difficult it is for the smaller-handed surgeon to grasp the handles of the stapler.

"I would never give someone the wrong size scissors or sutures to close the abdomen. Why are we asking people to use the wrong size tools that don't work for them properly?"

Dr. Nichol says he's pushing companies that produce these staplers to make the instruments fit a variety of hand sizes.

"Don't you want that surgeon to have the best instruments possible when they're operating on you?"

Click here to read Dr. Nichol's complete study "One Size Does Not Fit All".

Send comments to Vanessa Shirley at vshirley@wkowtv.com


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