Biometric Analysis of Surgeons' Physiologic Responses During Surgery

Document Type


Publication Date



Trauma & Acute Care Surgery

Journal Title

The American Surgeon

MeSH Headings

Blood Gas Analysis; Blood Pressure; Heart Rate; Humans; Occupational Stress (physiopathology); Prospective Studies; Stress, Physiological (physiology); Surgeons (statistics & numerical data); Surgical Procedures, Operative (psychology, statistics & numerical data)


BACKGROUND: Much has been written from the social science perspective surrounding surgeons' stress and burn out. The literature is sparse in reference to scientific investigations of the hemodynamic effect of that stress. This prospective clinical study quantifies the physiologic impact of performing surgery upon the acute care surgeon. METHODS: Over 2.5 years, monitoring devices were affixed to surgeons prior to entering the operating room, and physiologic variables were documented every 30 minutes. Qualifying cases were projected as being greater than 2 hours with a baseline preoperative measurement obtained. Variables recorded included blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), rate pressure product (RPP), oxygen saturation (O sat), and end-tidal carbon dioxide (ET CO). RESULTS: Statistically significant differences ( < .05) were found between baseline data to the maximum recording during the surgical operation for: BP (min 101 ± 6.6 (mmHg)-max 117 ± 5.1 (mmHg)), HR (min 70.5 ± 6.2 (bpm)-max 83.7 ± 9.0 (bpm)), O sat (min 97 ± 2.0 (%)-max 100 ± 0.22(%)), and ET CO (min 34.1 ± 1.15 mmHg-max 38 ± 1.7 mmHg) ( < .0001). The RPP ranged from 10.49 mmHg/min to 15.88 mmHg/min with a mean of 14.00 mmHg/min. DISCUSSION: The practice of surgery is considered demanding in training and lifestyle in comparison to other medical specialties. This data is among the first to demonstrate the negative physiological impact of surgery upon the metabolic demand of the surgeon. The longitudinal implications of increased physiologic demand over time may have cardiovascular and cerebrovascular consequences.

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