Tips and tools for left-handed
Trainee cardiac surgeons
Imagine you are in a job where one slip may cause serious damage or even death. Would you feel confident if the only tools you wanted were unnatural to use? In this blog, Alison Cuff discusses the trials and tribulations of left-handed surgeons and the importance of specialized instruments.
Have you ever tried to learn to knit? If you, as nothing else, you bet you have a nice, multicolored Tom Baker scarf at home. Maybe with a few holes where you dropped a stitch or two, but unfortunately, a proud testimony to having mastered the knitting and stitching.
I got one of those scarves. I made it during a break evening class a few years ago. Good. Almost. I have no stitches in mines, but something is basically lacking … the patchwork.
My tutor was very patient, but it was hopeless. The lacquer will always be a complete secret to me. Why? Well, this is possible because I’m part of the estimated 10% of the left-handed population.
Back in the day, my fate could be a very hot and painful one while tied to a game. Fortunately, a left-handed person’s problems are now more verbal. If you’re right-handed, you probably haven’t even noticed it, but almost everything is for your design.
Scissors, knives, musical instruments, irons, computer mice and even ring binder sheets (did you try to print with a little metal in the hand of your hand?) Are just some of the everyday
items that can cause problems for our southpaws. Not to mention that almost everything is practically taught – as far as we are concerned – is the wrong way; And yes, this includes knitting.
For many people, of course, this is just a small annoyance to work. However, if you are in a job where one slips, it can cause serious damage or even death, and the only tools you can handle are those that feel unnatural to use and force your muscles to uncomfortable. work?
Say hello to the world of the left-handed surgeon
It goes without saying that surgery may require a high degree of accuracy and agility. It is therefore essential that the surgeon can work in an environment that meets their requirements and has access to tools that can be used with ease.
With this in mind, Burdett and colleagues published a paper on surgical tips for left heart surgeons and their trainers. Despite the problems they may face, many left-handed people make good heart surgeons. However, Burdett et al says that while any obstacles have been successfully tackled, both are a general lack of information and an insufficient distribution of any knowledge gained, resulting in reinventing the wheel.
They discuss how, with a few preparations and modifications, left-wing surgeons can work together and be trained by those who are right-handed. And the first thing they say is that unless they are ambidextrous, pupils should not use their right hand. Since I am very left-handed (I can barely hold a pen in my right hand, let alone write it). I will definitely say it was good advice!
Communication and preparation are key
After consulting left-handed heart surgeon pupils and both left and right-handed coaches, Burdett et al has compiled a list of tips.
For example, setting up a theater for a left-handed cardiac surgeon would be different to a right-handed man. For example, the scrub nurse must be consulted beforehand so that they can get the necessary equipment and be well prepared to help. The anesthetic team must also be told, as it is necessary to make changes when erected, since left-handed surgeons require more elbow space.
They continue to describe possible techniques for opening the operation, killing the aorta, harvesting the tube (for coronary artery bypass grafting) and even how best to pass a patient.
Left-handed instruments are considered essential. Unfortunately, it is usually not available in many surgical centers, and as a student it can be difficult to find the funds to buy it, especially as it is more expensive than the right-hand equivalent. Buying their own is an option, but of course expensive.
The right tools for the job
Burdett et al also wrote a guide for cardiac surgeons describing some of the major differences in surgical tools for left and right hand surgeons who are often used in heart surgery. To explain why these different tools are needed and give tips on their use. These include needle holders, instruments that hold needles for attachment during surgery.
Case study: Needle holders
Needle holders are typically closed when locked using a ratchet, which basically consists of toothed operations in the locks of the instrument. Needle holders are used for delicate work and are often locked when in use. It is therefore important that the surgeons use them as easily as possible.
To open the needle holder, a right-handed surgeon simply pushes the upper handle with the thumb. This results in a shift of the teeth which is part of the rachet attached to the upper handle away from that of the lower handle. The instrument then unlocks and opens (Figure 1).
However, when the container is placed in the left hand, the same impact action is now on the opposite side and pushes the two shields closer together with the teeth that are still locked. The left-hand surgeon must place their fingers in the holes in the handle to disassemble the two shutters. This movement does not feel as natural as the former and is not so easily controlled (Figure 2).
It is only with a left-hand needle holder, with its teeth locked in the opposite direction, that the left-hand surgeon can push the instrument with their thumb in the same way as their right-hand counterparts (Figure 3).
Learning to do it both ways
If that helps, the equipment being offered is probably right-handed. Instruments used to help do not require the same level of skill as needle controllers, so students need to learn how to use it with both their right and left hands.
While training with a left hand surgeon is not recommended or practical, a left-handed pupil may find it helpful to do it at certain points during their training, especially when learning how to use left-handed tools and techniques. If one is not available, tutorials are available on the YouTube channel of the left-hand heart surgeon club.
With 90% of the population right-handed, too often left-handed people are left to best adapt to a world that simply isn’t designed for them. However, there are instances when it is necessary not to ignore the requirements of left-handed individuals. There are a number of obstacles to overcome if a left-hand person wants to become a cardiac surgeon, but with co-operation and a few changes, it is hoped that they will find their training no less challenging than their right hand. counterparts.
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