Common Problems with Lithotomy Stirrups and Other OR Table Leg Holders

Steris Power-Lift Stirrups

Common problems with leg holdersIf you’ve ever asked a salesperson what the common problems are with their product, chances are they’re not going to tell you everything!

It’s definitely a question that no one likes to answer about their own product.

A lot of times, it’s not even a question that you ask. Maybe you didn’t think to ask it, or maybe you’re too uncomfortable with asking it.

Either way, we’re making it easy on you (and the salesperson) by proactively answering the question of ‘what are the most common problems with lithotomy stirrups and other leg holders’.

The following information is based on our own experience, market research and feedback from customers over the last 36 years.

Patient Pain or Injury

Patient leg pain
Far outweighing the problems with mechanical or functionality issues, patient safety is the number one thing on the list.

Some of the most common problems that patients’ suffer are nerve damage, general discomfort, or pressure sores.

Lithotomy Stirrups Boots

What you need to do is look at the type of procedures and the lengths of the procedures to determine if a candy-cane style is okay or if a boot is warranted.

If a boot is warranted, you’re going from standard leg holder, to stirrups.

But beware, not all boots are created equal.

Questions to ask about the boot:

  • How far up the patient’s leg does the boot go?
  • How far does the boot wrap around or encompass the patient’s leg? Does it have a lateral fin, and if so does the lateral fin cover and protect the head of the fibula and the peroneal nerve?
  • What’s the quality of the boot pad?
  • Is the boot self-adjustable to minimize pressure on the calf when moving the stirrup?

Allowable Leg Movement

Another factor to consider is if the patient’s legs need to move or be stationary.

As soon as any type of swing motion is introduced, the patient runs the risk of hyperflexion at the hip, which could result in impaired circulatory function to the legs.

Keep in mind that one thing is that a manufacturer says their stirrups allow leg movement, but it’s another issue altogether that they move correctly, avoiding potential injuries.

Patient’s Emotions

Any time we open ourselves up to complete strangers, we always feel a variety of emotions, including insecurity.
Patient's emotions
According to a study done on the challenges of pelvic examinations, Patients’ attitudes toward gynecologic examination and to gynecologists, the authors found that some patients experienced the procedure as disempowering, abusive, humiliating, impersonal, and/or degrading.

So consider in your purchase of stirrups or leg holders how it’ll make the patient feel.

Putting your foot through a tiny strap and touching the cold, hard feel of metal likely won’t lead to rave reviews.

Boot Padding/Straps Breaking

With so much pressure being put on the boot or strap, naturally things are going to get stretched, torn and eventually break down.

With booted stirrups, a very common occurrence is the boot pad losing its ability to attach to the boot. Most pads attach with Velcro straps. The constant moving and shift, combined with the weight of the patient’s leg, will eventually wear the Velcro out.

Rips and tears in the boot padding will also occur. As with a lot of things, the abuse something takes over time and usage will have an effect on the durability.

Straps used in candy-cane-type-stirrups can also rip and tear with time and usage. If you go with this method, the good news is that the replacement straps are cheap.

Lift Shock Bending

Getting a good quality pair of stirrups can save you from some major headaches when it comes to compromising the stability of the stirrup.

Once the gas shock is bent, the entire apparatus is at risk of malfunctioning.

It could be that the material or quality of it just isn’t that good. But it could also be that a bariatric patient’s leg was put into a stirrup that only had a 250 lbs weight capacity rating.

If the stirrups don’t come with easy and simple-to-use movement adjustability, the chances of a problem happening increase. This is one of the reasons why a lot stirrups manufacturers now have the assisted lift feature as a standard feature.

Hydraulic Cylinders Leaking

This is really only applicable to stirrups with a assisted lift feature that uses hydraulics.

Over time, the hydraulic cylinder gas spring will wear down, as it happens with just about everything.

Once the cylinder starts to leak, the stirrups will no longer be dependable and may pose a risk to the patient and to staff.

Stuck Release Handle

Again, this is relevant to assisted lift stirrups, not simple leg holders.

Over time, from cleaning the stirrups and with general wear and tear, liquid will seep into areas with moving parts, which could cause them to bind.

For repair: disassembly, re-greasing and mending of protectant covers.

Loose Boot

There will always be a little play with boots attached to support rod.

However, this also will wear over time, and eventually the boot will become problematically loose.

What happens is the fusion between the lock-ins, where the boot and stirrup connect, weakens and it has to either be replaced or special washers inserted to reduce the play.


While some of these common problems are specific to stirrups and not ordinary leg holders, the value of the quality you get out of stirrups far overrides that of the increased potential problems.

For example, what’s cheaper: replacing a hydraulic cylinder for a few hundred bucks on a stirrup, or being responsible/liable for a patient getting nerve damage from a strap leg holder?

When looking to buy stirrups or other leg holders, ask the vendor about the things you read here today.

That way, you’re able to make the best choice based on reliable and true information.

Additional Resources

Back in 1981, Meditek came up with a revolutionary idea for extending the life of hospital equipment called the ReNew program.

Starting out with mainly surgical tables, the ReNew program has evolved into a much wider scope and now includes stirrups and other leg holders. In addition to offering remanufactured Allen Medical Yellofins® stirrups for a fraction of the cost of new, Meditek also provides new stirrups for manufacturers and brands.

Have a question about stirrups or other leg holders?

Drop us a line below or call us at 1.800.567.8400.

*Yellofins® is a registered trademark of Allen Medical Systems, Inc

2 Comments on “Common Problems with Lithotomy Stirrups and Other OR Table Leg Holders”

  1. Colleen Canfield

    When a 3065 Steris bed is reversed with cysto Bed attachment, does it matter if you put the stirrup clamp on the short extension or on the main part of the bed ( where the back would lay)?

    1. Brad Samuels

      Hello Colleen, if it is the 3085 model you are referring to, the clamp/stirrup can go on either section.
      If you have any further questions, please let us know!
      Brad Samuels | MEDITEK

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