Hand dominance in orthopaedic surgeons

Published online: Aug 27 2012

Darren F. LUI, Joseph F. BAKER, Gala NFILA, Anthony PERERA, Michael STEPHENS

From Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital, Finglas, Dublin, Ireland


Handedness is perhaps the most studied human asymmetry. Laterality is the preference shown for one side and it has been studied in many aspects of medicine. Studies have shown that some orthopaedic procedures had poorer outcomes and identified laterality as a contributing factor. We developed a questionnaire to assess laterality in orthopaedic surgery and compared this to an established scoring system. Sixty-two orthopaedic surgeons surveyed with the validated Waterloo Handedness Questionnaire (WHQ) were compared with the self developed Orthopaedic Handedness Questionnaire (OHQ). Fifty-eight were found to be right hand dominant (RHD) and 4 left hand dominant (LHD). In RHD surgeons, the average WHQ score was 44.9% and OHQ 15%. For LHD surgeons the WHQ score was 30.2% and OHQ 9.4%. This represents a significant amount of time using the non dominant hand but does not necessarily determine satisfactory or successful dexterity transferable to the operating room. Training may be required for the non dominant side.