12 patient positions on the operating table


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When someone is on your operating table, they must know that they can trust you wholeheartedly. Correct localization is key to ensuring that your patient is properly cared for before, during and after surgery. Determine the best patient location for surgery to help your patients feel comfortable and safe during treatment.


There is much to keep in mind when choosing the best location for a patient. The four basic positions — supine, lateral, lithotomy and prone — each have benefits, complications and variations. When you can do that, there are likely to be fewer injuries and complications.


Knowing more about the patient’s positions on the operating table will make the operation more smooth and the recovery easier, and the patients and their caregivers will have a better experience.


1. Supine position:The most common surgical position. The patient lies with back flat on operating room bed.

2. Trendelenburg position:Same as supine position but the upper torso is lowered.

3. Reverse Trendelenburg position:Same as supine but upper torso is raised and legs are lowered.

4. Fracture Table Position:For hip fracture surgery. Upper torso is in supine position with unaffected leg raised. Affected leg is extended with no lower support. The leg is strapped at the ankle and there is padding in the groin to keep pressure on the leg and hip.

5. Lithotomy position:Used for gynecological, anal, and urological procedures. Upper torso is placed in the supine position, legs are raised and secured, arms are extended.

6. Fowler’s position:Begins with patient in supine position. Upper torso is slowly raised to a 90 degree position.

7. Semi-Fowlers position:Lower torso is in supine position and the upper torso is bent at a nearly 85 degree position. The patient’s head is secured by a restraint.

8. Prone position:Patient lies with stomach on the bed. Abdomen can be raised off the bed.Jackknife position.Also called the Kraske position. Patient’s abdomen lies flat on the bed. The bed is scissored so the hip is lifted and the legs and head are low.

9. Knee-chest position:Similar to the jackknife except the legs are bent at the knee at a 90 degree angle.Lateral positionAlso called the side-lying position, it is like the jackknife except the patient is on his or her side. Other similar positions are Lateral chest and Lateral kidney.

10. Lloyd-Davies position:It is a medical term referring to a common position for surgical procedures involving the pelvis and lower abdomen. The majority of colorectal and pelvic surgery is conducted with the patient in the Lloyd-Davis position.

11. Kidney position:The kidney position is much like the lateral position except the patient’s abdomen is placed over a lift in the operating table that bends the body to allow access to the retroperitoneal space. A kidney rest is placed under the patient at the location of the lift.

12. Sims’ position:The Sims’ position is a variation of the left lateral position. The patient is usually awake and helps with the positioning. The patient will roll to his or her left side. Keeping the left leg straight, the patient will slide the left hip back and bend the right leg. This position allows access to the anus.

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