Assessments of Physical Workload in Sonography Tasks Using Inclinometry, Goniometry, and Electromyography

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Echocardiography involves strenuous postures of the upper limbs. This study explored the physical workload in the neck and upper limbs in sonographers performing echocardiography, and the extent to which the workload differs from than in other work tasks (other sonographic examinations, and nonsonographic tasks). Methods: The physical load was assessed by inclinometry, goniometry, and electromyography methods in 33 female sonographers during authentic work using three different echocardiography techniques and other work tasks. Results: Echocardiography was characterized by low velocities of the head, arms, and wrists, and a low proportion of muscular resting time in the forearms, in the transducer limb, and the computer limb. The transducer limb was more elevated in one of the techniques, but this technique also involved a higher proportion of muscular resting time of the trapezius muscle. We also found a high proportion of awkward wrist postures in the transducer wrist in all three techniques; in one due to prolonged flexion, and in the others due to prolonged extension. Other work tasks were less static, and were performed with higher upper arm and wrist velocities. Conclusion: None of the three echocardiography techniques was optimal concerning physical workload. Thus, to achieve more variation in physical load we recommend that the equipment be arranged so that the sonographer can alternate between two different techniques during the workday. We also propose alternation between echocardiography and nonsonographic tasks, in order to introduce variation in the physical workload. Clinical expertise should be used to achieve further improvements.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • Echocardiography, Ergonomics, Technical measurements, Work postures
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-333
JournalSafety and Health at Work
Issue number3
Early online date2017 Sep
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep
Publication categoryResearch

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