What is the dorsal recumbent position?
The dorsal recumbent position is a position in which an individual (usually a patient) lies on their back with their knees bent up in an outward position while their feet are planted flat on the ground, a bed, table or resting platform allowing the pelvic area to be easily examined and observed.
In regards to defining the term dorsal recumbent position the word “dorsal” refers to the back (posterior) or spine of a human/animal while the word “recumbent” means to lie down/recline, typically in a comfortable position.
Simply put the dorsal recumbent position is performed by lying flat on ones back with their knees flexed upward and outward while the soles of the feet rest flat on the surface.
Why is it important?
The dorsal recumbent position plays an important role in healthcare and is commonly used during a number of medical procedures to diagnose and/or treat potential medical issues.
This position allows a healthcare professional such as a physician or practitioner to observe the anterior/ventral parts of their patients anatomy such as the head, neck, thorax/chest (heart and lungs), abdomen and genitals as well as the rectum.
From this position a healthcare professional can exam and identify potential medical issues such as head injures, heart complications, abdominal pain, genital issues and a host of other potential medical concerns.
This position may also be used to perform medical procedures such as running IV lines, giving birth and performing a surgical operations.
The dorsal recumbent position may be used for:
- Physical examinations (rectal, genital, vaginal)
- Surgical operations
- Drawing blood
- Running IV lines
- Bladder draining
- Giving birth (Child delivery)
How is it performed
Performing the dorsal recumbent position is fairly simple.
An individual is asked to lay on their back (typically on a bed or table) and lift their knees toward the ceiling while spreading their legs apart while resting the soles of their feet on a flat surface.
This allows the pelvic region to be easily observed for an examination or to perform a medical procedure.
The head is typically positioned up toward the ceiling and a pillow or linen may be used to prop the head up and keep the neck and spine properly aligned.
The individuals arms may be placed alongside the body to keep the neck, chest and abdomen clearly visible during the procedure.
In some situations (such as during an operation) a patients arms may be supported by an arm board and secured using straps to prevent accidental movement while they are being operated on, and the legs/thighs may also be supported and strapped to provide the surgeon/physician with an adequate operating angle.
To provide the patient with additional comfort and privacy his/her lower extremities may be covered up with a blanket, sheet or gown to keep their private parts from being openly exposed.
The blanket/cover is generally placed around the abdominal area and draped over both legs in order to cover the genitals and legs before, during and/or after an examination/procedure.
Dorsal recumbent position steps:
- Lie down on a flat, comfortable surface
- Prop the head up using a pillow or linen if necessary
- Lay arms down along the sides of the body to prevent obstructing the view of the thorax and abdomen
- Bend the knees upward and outward toward the ceiling so the pelvic area is easily observable and can be examined
- Place a sheet or blanket over the lower extremities from the abdomen to the feet in order to cover the pelvis and genitals for better privacy
Dorsal recumbent position vs supine position
The dorsal recumbent position is similar to the supine position in which an individual lies face up with their legs straight and arms resting on the abdomen or by the individuals sides.
This position is modified by flexing the knees upward while positioning the soles of the feet flat on the ground, bed or table that the individual is resting on.
The bending of the knees and planted soles is what transforms the supine position into what is known as the dorsal recumbent position.
As with the dorsal recumbent position an individual resting the supine position may also use a pillow or head prop to keep the head and spine properly aligned while laying down.