What Is The Lithotomy Position?

The Lithotomy position is a medical term referring to a particular position in which the patient is placed when he or she has to undergo an examination or a medical procedure of some kind. The word Lithotomy originated from the Greek words ‘lithos’ and ‘tomos’ which mean stone and cut. It was a word that was used for the procedure that removed stones from the gallbladder or kidney by surgical means and when this was done in ancient Greece, the patient was put into this position to make the procedure easier to perform. This is the position that is most often used when a woman’s bears a child so it is also called the birthing position. In this position, the patient has the knees bent and lies on his back and the legs are raised above the hip level, with the feet put through stirrups.

For a doctor, it is the ideal position as it makes examinations easier. So this is the position that is used most often for simple pelvic examinations as well as when women are in labor and giving birth. It facilitates the use of the forceps when the patient is in this position as well as to stitch up any tears. It is also easy for the doctor to have the patient in this position when it is a child. This is especially so for pediatric surgery, mainly of the abdomen.

Is the Lithotomy position fine for the patient? Now there seems to be some kind of controversy about this. While most countries have moved away from this rather uncomfortable position for the patient, the US continues to use this position for most of its birthing procedures. However, there have been cases when this position has resulted in sciatica problems or even deep vein thrombosis. This is a rather dangerous position for a long period of time as it does not allow the circulation of the blood in the body to move normally. This could cause complications in both the mother and the baby. For giving birth, it does not work with gravity to make it easier on the mother but works against it. Many experts have castigated the use of this position but doctors still persist in making this the usual position for childbirth.