Dorsal Recumbent Position. All You Need To Know

In the field of medicine and nursing, different types of positions are being used when it comes to patients assessment and physical examination. However, it is paramount that the dorsal recumbent position is one of the most used positions during patient examination.

So, in this short article, we will be looking at positions for physical examination, but our main focus is going to be on the dorsal recumbent position including answers to some frequently questions regarding some of the types of positions used during patients examination.

Dorsal Recumbent Position

What Is Dorsal Recumbent Position?

The dorsal recumbent position is a position that is mostly used when it comes to positions for physical examination, especially in women. In this position, patients are asked to lie on their back, fully flexed their knees and their thighs. The feet are also rotated flat externally on the bed. This position allows full access to the female and male sex organs and surroundings.

How To Position A Patient In A Dorsal Recumbent Position

Positioning a patient in a dorsal recumbent position is very simple. As stated above, all you have to do is to ask the patient to lay on his or her back on a bed or examination table, lift both knees toward the roofing while both legs are well spread as the soles of their feet are resting on a resting surface. With the patient in this position, her pelvic region can be easily visible for any observation or examination.

For additional comfort and privacy of the patient, the lower extremities of the patient may be covered with linens, gown or sheet. This will keep the private parts of the patient from being exposed anyhow.

What Is The Important Of Dorsal Recumbent Position? 

The dorsal recumbent position plays a very vital role in the healthcare industry as it is the most commonly used position during examination and diagnosis.

This position enables healthcare providers such as physicians to make a proper observation of the anterior-ventral parts of the patient’s thorax /chest (heart and lungs), abdomen, head, neck, and genitals, including the rectum.

With the patient in the position, the healthcare provider can easily examine to find out medical problems in the head, the heart, the abdominal, the genital, and many other potential medical issues.

This position may be used during physical assessment or examinations of the rectal, the genital, and the vaginal as well. The position is also used in many surgical operations such the drawing blood, running IV lines and bladder draining

Dorsal Recumbent Vs Lithotomy Position

The dorsal position is quite similar to the standard position used for gynaecological examinations and childbirth- the lithotomy position. Lithotomy position is also used for surgeries within the pelvic area. The position derived its name from a procedure that involves the removal of bladder stones.

In lithotomy position, the patient is asked to lie down on her back with her two legs open to an angle of 90 degrees at her hips. The knees are also bent at 70-90 degrees with the foot resting on a pair of padded footrests attached to the examination table.

Dorsal recumbent Vs Supine Position

Like the lithotomy position, the dorsal recumbent position is also quite similar to the supine position. In this position the patient or client lies down flat at his or her back with the face in an upward position, the legs are positioned straight and the arms are either resting on the patient’s abdomen or beside the patient.

The above position is then modified by upward flexing of both knees as the soles of the foot remain flat on the ground, table or the bed the patient is lying on. This position is transformed into the dorsal recumbent position when the knees are bent and the soles of the foot of the examination or bed.

The patient resting on a supine position may also use a pillow to prop the head, this helps to keep the head including the spine in proper alignment.

Some Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

What Is Dorsal Recumbent Position Used For?

This position is one of the most used positions in performing various kinds of procedures that has to do with male and female genitalia, and this includes passing of catheter, vaginal douche, vaginal and rectal vulval examination. It is also an ideal position for tampons insertion and vaginal operations.

What is another word for the dorsal position?

Another name for the dorsal position is the Supine position, it’s one of the most commonly used positions for procedures in health care settings.

Why is a drape used when positioning patients?

Draping in the positioning of patients during surgery is a procedure in which the surgery site of a patient who is ready to undergo a surgical procedure is covered or isolated with a sterile barrier from another part of the body. The reason for draping is to protect the surgery area from bacteria and other microorganisms. That’s to keep the surgical site and surrounding areas sterile 

What does the word recumbent mean?

The word recumbent means lying down flat.

What is the dorsal lithotomy position?

Dorsal lithotomy position is the same as dichotomy position, a position that is often used during childbirth and in gynaecological examinations.

What is another word for dorsal?

Another word for dorsal is the spine.

What is the semi-recumbent position?

Semi recumbent position is a position in which the head and the torso of the patient is uprightly positioned at an angle of 45 degrees. A semi-recumbent position is used to measures for preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia. Ventilator-associated pneumonia is one of the major causes of death nosocomial infection in critically ill patients.

Final Words

Here comes the end of this short article on dorsal recumbent position. We hope you see it as helpful information as far as the subject is concern. If you have any questions or contributions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Written by
Albright McHeals