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Archive July 2020 XXI, No. 7

A Power Tool Wish List

Orthopedic surgeons reveal what they look for in saws and drills.

Nicole Azzara


Megan Nolan, BSN, RN, CNOR, CSSM
DRILL DOWN Trial different makes and models of power tools to ensure the fleet you choose meets the needs of surgeons who specialize in various joint procedures.

Orthopods are surgery's carpenters, cutting and drilling into bone as they stabilize loose structures, repair broken parts and replace aging joists, er joints. Like any master craftsman, they want high-performance tools with features designed to maximize their skills as they ply their trade.

1. Weight, balance and feel

The weight of a tool can be a critical factor in how well it performs in surgeons' hands. If it's too heavy, they might tire quickly and be unable to apply the right amount of force needed to drill or cut through bone safely and effectively. Many surgeons therefore prefer lightweight options with the power to get the job done.

"If I'm scheduled to perform seven joint replacements in a day, working with comfortable, lightweight tools that don't tax my arm muscles prevents me from getting fatigued, which in turn helps me perform surgery and achieve the best possible outcomes for my patients," says Brandon Gough, MD, a joint replacement specialist at the Orthopedic Institute of the West in Phoenix.

Ergonomics is also an important consideration for surgeons and can also limit surgeon fatigue, according to John Keating, MD, SFOA, an orthopedic trauma surgeon who practices in Atlanta. Power tools should be weight-balanced and feature handpieces surgeons can grip comfortably and easily.

2. Low decibel operation

One quality you might not think about with power tools is how much noise they make. "Surgeons don't want to work with instruments that cause their ears to ring while they're operating," says Dr. Gough. "I've worked with tools that made so much noise, I didn't want to use them anymore."

The quieter the instrument, the less the stress surgeons will feel and the better they'll be able to think more clearly and precisely about how to perform the surgery.

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