The Lithotomy Position And Pelvic Examinations

The lithotomy position is really a face-off between doctors and patients and unfortunately in the US, the position is still being followed, ostensibly for the doctorsí convenience. From a doctorís point of view, things couldnít be better. The patient is literally strung up and not likely to jerk or move suddenly. When it comes to a physical examination, the doctor could not be better placed for a pelvic examination. There is access to the lower abdomen and for the surgeon too, itís far easier to do any procedure in this position.

Letís take a look at things from a patientís point of view. His legs are raised over his hips, even his head sometimes. The legs are in stirrups and he feels like some piece of meat being strung up. There is a feeling of being vulnerable and this is not the right position when a patient is conscious because it is demeaning as well as uncomfortable. Maybe this would not matter if the person was under the effect of anesthesia but in a conscious state this is rather callous. The other problem is that blood supply is diminished to the area which makes the danger of the patient becoming hypothermic possible.

The trouble is, this position was adapted from one which was practiced for thousands of years. However, it was used basically to remove bladder stones. This is all very well when a person is very ill and has to have immediate treatment or surgery but not for childbirth or pelvic examinations where the patient is conscious and aware of what is going on. It also endangers the patient buy decreasing the blood supply to the abdomen area, thereby triggering off possible side effects and complications.

The lithotomy position has come under scrutiny and many countries have stopped using this practice in their medical examinations and procedures. The US however, still carries on using this as the favored position for childbirth and pelvic examinations.