What is Fowler’s position?

Related to the Fowler position is the Trendelenburg position, where the patient lies on his back with the feet slightly elevated.

Fowler’s position refers to the position the patient is placed in before, during, and after surgery. Named after George Ryerson Fowler during the late 1800’s, the Fowler position is actually several different positions. They all refer to different degrees of height and angle and include low, semi-high, high, and the standard Fowler position, also known simply as “Fowler”. The positions are commonly used to relieve tension in the patient’s muscles and to improve breathing. They also help with fluid drainage during and after certain surgeries.

The Fowler position can be used for breast reduction surgeries.

Different surgical procedures tend to have patients in different Fowler positions. The low position will have the head of the bed raised about 15 to 30 degrees. The semi-position has the patient sitting in a semi-upright position of 30 to 45 degrees with the knees bent or straight. This placement is often used for nasal, shoulder, cranial and even breast reduction surgeries. It can relieve tension in the stomach muscles and help with breathing.

Oral cavity surgeries often use the Fowler position.

The patient’s head is elevated 45 to 60 degrees in the standard Fowler position, while in the high position the head is elevated 80 to 90 degrees. The high position is typically used for feeding patients, taking X-rays and when they are having difficulty breathing. The standard Fowler position is often used during surgery on the nasal and oral cavities and helps to promote drainage and prevent aspiration, which is the inhalation of substances from the stomach into the respiratory tract.

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Special wedges can be used to hold patients in the Fowler position during testing.

There are other patient positions related to the Fowler position. The Trendelenburg position causes the patient to lie on his back with the feet slightly elevated above the head, typically in the range of 15 to 30 degrees. The reverse Trendelenburg position keeps the patient in the same flat position, but this time the configuration is reversed. This position is typically used for gynecological and abdominal surgery as it works to move the intestines away from the pelvis. This allows greater access to organs.

Sims’ position is often used during rectal exams.

The Sims position is often used when performing rectal exams. The patient will lie on the left side with the right knee bent, taking care that it does not come into contact with the right leg. The right arm extends behind the back and the left hand is pulled towards the face. A pillow is usually placed under the patient’s head. This position can be a little uncomfortable for older people.

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