Ergonomics for Radiologists

These tips and tools can help improve your efficiency and productivity

A recent survey of more than 1,300 academic radiologists found that virtually all (98%) respondents used multiple monitors for image-reading purposes, but nearly half (46%) use just one non-imaging monitor for non-diagnostic purposes, such as dictation, entering RIS order information and worklists, and to access electronic medical records.

The survey, whose results appeared in the Journal of Digital Imaging, was conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in Baltimore to investigate the effect of variations in physical and digital workspaces at academic radiology departments.  The UMMC’s radiologists and staff have conducted much research on the ergonomics of digital reading rooms and diagnostic workstation configurations.

After tabulating the results of the survey, which sought to discern the degree to which radiology reading and RIS applications are influenced by workspace configurations and other factors, the researchers concluded that outfitting diagnostic workstations with a dual non-imaging monitor display configuration may improve radiologists’ convenience and workflow productivity more than a single non-imaging monitor.1

The UMMC study points up the importance of good workspace ergonomics to radiologist health and well-being. Inadequate ergonomics stresses the body by forcing it into awkward postures or repeated movements, leading to discomfort, fatigue, pain and, over time, musculoskeletal disorders. Radiologists can fight these effects in a number of ways; among the easiest and lowest-cost ways is employ ergonomically designed furniture and practice ergonomically friendly work habits. Here are some suggestions:

Get properly situated. Adjust your chair before starting your shift and after lunch. Sit up straight and make sure you have support for the lower back. If your chair does not curve to support your entire back, use a pillow or a lumbar support cushion.

Tilt, tilt. Tilt or otherwise position your keyboard so that your arms can remain straight from your elbows through the hands, not bent at the wrist, while typing. This helps to prevent repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Keep your distance. Sit with your monitor 25-28 inches away from your head, with your eyes positioned so they look straight ahead at the top third of the screen.

Reach an arrangement.  Arrange the items on your desk so that you can reach those used most frequently without stretching or bending.

Stand up for health. Consider installing a height-adjustable workstation. Studies show that standing for periods during the day can be beneficial, potentially improving circulation, your energy levels, and your productivity. A variety of height-adjustable desks are becoming available that offer functionality and comfort bonded with effortless efficiency at the touch of a button. Some even offer personalized, programmable settings.

The goal of practicing good ergonomics is to reduce strain on the body, which can be caused by repetitive motion, uncomfortable body positions, heavy lifting, vibration, and other factors. These tools and tips can help all radiologists maintain maximum efficiency and productivity.


  1. Sharma A, Wang K, Siegel E. Radiologist Digital Workspace Use and Preference: A Survey-Based Study. J Digit Imaging. 2017 30; 6: 687-694.
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