gel armguard 

"You say to-may-to and I say to-mah-to, you say po-tay-to and I say po-tah-to,” Ella Fitzgerald sings. Here at Action Products, we’re reminded of that song because of the confusion about what OR devices used to support patients’ arms should be called. Unlike Fitzgerald, however, we’re not suggesting “Let’s call the whole thing off” – We simply want to clarify the terminology.

The 2017 AORN Guidelines for Positioning the Patient* (Be sure to ask the head of education at your facility for a copy) mentions thatThe patient’s arms should be tucked at the sides with a draw sheet (See Recommendation IX.b.1) or secured at the sides with arm guards. Tucking or securing the patient’s arms at the sides reduces the potential for patient injury. Extending the patient’s arms on arm boards can lead to excessive abduction of the arms and cause a brachial neuropathy when the patient slides caudally”.

At Action Products, we refer to “arm guards” as “overlay toboggans” or simply as “toboggans”, which is descriptive of their shape. And whether you’re used to calling them toboggans or arm guards, the purpose is to protect the patient’s arms when doctors and nurses lean up against the table to reach the surgical site. “Some surgeons have success in protecting and stabilizing the arms of obese patients with well-padded arm sleds, which are designed to cradle the arm and extend under the mattress,” Dr. Ali Ghomi writes in Contemporary OB/Gyn, offering yet a third way to refer to protective arm devices.

Ghomi points out that steep Trendelenburg position is routine during robotic gynecologic surgery. Part of the reason, Ghomi explains, is that once the robot is docked with arms engaged to the instruments, adjusting the table is not feasible without undocking the robot. “Some surgeons have success in protecting and stabilizing the arms of obese patients with well-padded arm sleds, which are designed to cradle the arm and extend under the mattress,” the doctor adds.

The 2017 AORN Guidelines for Positioning the Patient* include several very important precautions:

  • Positioning equipment and devices should be designed and intended for use in posi­tioning surgical patients.
  • Perioperative personnel should verify com­patibility between positioning devices and support surfaces before use.
  • Manufacturers may permit or preclude the use of certain devices or surfaces with their products.
  • Using products or surfaces that are not compatible with each other increases the risk for injury to patients or personnel

The AORN Guidelines say “arm guard”, and we say “toboggan”, while Ghomi refers to “arm sleds”. But let’s not “get up in arms” and “call the whole thing off”. (All we wanted was to prevent online searchers getting “lost” on Google and help them find their way on our Action Products website.” 

At Action Products, we know arm guards by any other name can do the job!